What’s your best argument for regeneration precedes faith?

JMC

Puritan Board Freshman
This seems to be the most critical point for the doctrines of grace for if someone starts to believe this all the other points will follow. So I’m curious what your guys best argument for this is? Or what led you to start believing this?

For me, I would say Romans 8:8. Those in the flesh cannot please God. Since faith pleases God, those in the flesh cannot have faith and must be born again before they can. Is that sound? The reason I ask is because my Arminian friend says faith is not pleasing to God (otherwise it would be earning his salvation) There seems to be three arguments for faith being pleasing to God. 1) Hebrews 11:6. 2) Faith being a command. 3) The nature of faith (it in essence being in a state of virtues that are pleasing to him I.e. humility, trust, etc). I looked at the 1) and I don’t believe that passage teaches that faith is pleasing to God. So what scripture passages best teach 2) or 3)?

It’s kind of a two fold question, but I thought that since they are so related I’d put it in one.
 

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
This seems to be the most critical point for the doctrines of grace for if someone starts to believe this all the other points will follow. So I’m curious what your guys best argument for this is? Or what led you to start believing this?

In the title of this thread you ask:

What’s your best argument for regeneration precedes faith?​

I suppose I could come at this from many angles, multiplying Scripture verses, citing authorities throughout history, logic, etc. But I decided on what for me is the most seminal argument I could think of.

I don't mean to be shallow or simplistic, but do we need more than Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus?

John 3:1,2​
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

What is so interesting to me is that Nicademous hadn't asked a question yet.
Perhaps he looked puzzled, and Jesus answered his unspoken question, but I don't think so.

John 3:3​
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Judging from what Nicodemus says in verse 4, I don't think this poor Pharisee even had a category anywhere in his mind for what Jesus said in verse 3.
The question Jesus answered may have gone something like this.

"What is the most important, or first principle, a man must understand about life in the Kingdom?"
But he was not prepared to deal with Jesus' answer.

John 3:4​
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

It seems to me that Nicodemus' response was pure bewilderment. Nothing in his training prepared him for what Jesus said.
Maybe like this. "What in the world are you talking about?"

John 3:3-8​
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

That's the best I can offer.
 

arapahoepark

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
In the title of this thread you ask:

What’s your best argument for regeneration precedes faith?​

I suppose I could come at this from many angles, multiplying Scripture verses, citing authorities throughout history, logic, etc. But I decided on what for me is the most seminal argument I could think of.

I don't mean to be shallow or simplistic, but do we need more than Jesus' discussion with Nicodemus?

John 3:1,2​
There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: the same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

What is so interesting to me is that Nicademous hadn't asked a question yet.
Perhaps he looked puzzled, and Jesus answered his unspoken question, but I don't think so.

John 3:3​
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

Judging from what Nicodemus says in verse 4, I don't think this poor Pharisee even had a category anywhere in his mind for what Jesus said in verse 3.
The question Jesus answered may have gone something like this.

"What is the most important, or first principle, a man must understand about life in the Kingdom?"
But he was not prepared to deal with Jesus' answer.

John 3:4​
Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?

It seems to me that Nicodemus' response was pure bewilderment. Nothing in his training prepared him for what Jesus said.
Maybe like this. "What in the world are you talking about?"

John 3:3-8​
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born?
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

That's the best I can offer.
If arguing with Arminians definitely this.
 

Knight

Puritan Board Freshman
What convinced me 15 years ago was the following:

1 John 2:29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

1 John 3:9 No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God's seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.

1 John 5:4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the worldour faith.

1 John 5:18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

If being born of God logically precedes the practice of righteousness, avoidance of sinning, love, and overcoming the world (viz. our faith!), then in 1 John 5:1a, being born of God must also logically precede belief that Jesus is the Christ.
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
A few simple arguments come to mind..

If no one understands and no one seeks after God (Romans 3:11) then how can one turn to Christ in faith apart from (before) the gracious work of God in regeneration.

No one comes to the the Lord Jesus except the Father draw them (John 6:44). The context of this verse is faith in Christ and the promises given to the believer.

When we see the Lord speak of His work in regeneration we see it comes from Him, and not as a result of something we have done - e.g. Ezekiel 36:25-27.

As shown in the example of Lydia, it is the Lord our God who opens the heart to receive the message of the Gospel.
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
A couple other convincing arguments I’ve heard:

Just as a man cannot make himself born naturally, neither can he make himself be born again spiritually.

Lazarus as an example. He was a dead man who God called forth from the grave. Spiritually dead men and women (Ephesians 2:1, Colossians 2:13) do not believe in Jesus Christ. As Paul writes to the Corinthians,
“The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:13, ESV)


I’ve just thought of another one,

The parable of the sower. It’s those with the good soil (good hearts) who receive the word of God and it brings forth good lasting fruit. Only regenerate hearts are good, and planted by the Father (Matthew 15:13). Therefore surely it follows that only regenerate hearts can receive the message of the Gospel and respond in saving faith.
 

alexanderjames

Puritan Board Freshman
The reason I ask is because my Arminian friend says faith is not pleasing to God (otherwise it would be earning his salvation) There seems to be three arguments for faith being pleasing to God. 1) Hebrews 11:6. 2) Faith being a command. 3) The nature of faith (it in essence being in a state of virtues that are pleasing to him I.e. humility, trust, etc). I looked at the 1) and I don’t believe that passage teaches that faith is pleasing to God. So what scripture passages best teach 2) or 3)?
It’s quite strange to hear the idea that faith isn’t pleasing to God.
Your friend seems to be confused in attempting to protect the fact that we cannot earn salvation. Justifying faith is contrary to works in its nature, because it is the beggar receiving the riches of God’s grace unto salvation in the Person and work of Jesus Christ by faith. This is of course not meritorious in a legal sense but is nevertheless pleasing to God. To say otherwise is denying that God is pleased to save us in this His way.

And if you’re not convinced by Hebrews 11:6, the fact that God commands and calls all people to faith surely evidences that it is pleasing to Him. There are plenty of passages to support your points 2 (e.g. John 6:29, Mark 11:22) and 3. For point 3 on the nature of saving faith this is worth serious further study.
 
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83r17h

Puritan Board Freshman
It’s quite strange to hear the idea that faith isn’t pleasing to God.

This was my thought as well.

Consider Romans 4:1-6. "his faith was accounted for righteousness." And Paul brings into this connection Psalm 32, calling the person who's faith is counted as righteousness "blessed." If God counts faith as righteousness, so much so that the Scripture considers a person with faith to be blessed on its account, then it is difficult to see how faith could be considered "not pleasant" to God.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Those who are spiritually dead are not capable of exercising faith. They must be regenerated by the Holy Spirit first.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
There are no regenerate people walking around who lack faith. Regeneration precedes faith logically but not chronologically. There are no big time gaps between the two. God moves the wheel, and all the spokes move at once.
 

JMC

Puritan Board Freshman
There are no regenerate people walking around who lack faith. Regeneration precedes faith logically but not chronologically. There are no big time gaps between the two. God moves the wheel, and all the spokes move at once.
I see, this makes sense. Thank you!
 

GulfCoast Presbyterian

Puritan Board Junior
Forgive me if my answer seems overly simplistic. What helped me most to grasp this truth was a long rumination on 1 Cor. 2:14. The things of God are folly to the natural man, and he cannot accept them for they are spiritually discerned. See also John 10:26, etc. Only when regenerate can he accept the things of God. This regeneration is an act entirely of God. See Eph 2:8-9. Note that I am not positing a big temporal gap between regeneration and faith.
 

wyattchosen

Puritan Board Freshman
This seems to be the most critical point for the doctrines of grace for if someone starts to believe this all the other points will follow. So I’m curious what your guys best argument for this is? Or what led you to start believing this?

For me, I would say Romans 8:8. Those in the flesh cannot please God. Since faith pleases God, those in the flesh cannot have faith and must be born again before they can. Is that sound? The reason I ask is because my Arminian friend says faith is not pleasing to God (otherwise it would be earning his salvation) There seems to be three arguments for faith being pleasing to God. 1) Hebrews 11:6. 2) Faith being a command. 3) The nature of faith (it in essence being in a state of virtues that are pleasing to him I.e. humility, trust, etc). I looked at the 1) and I don’t believe that passage teaches that faith is pleasing to God. So what scripture passages best teach 2) or 3)?

It’s kind of a two fold question, but I thought that since they are so related I’d put it in one.
I think the critical point is understanding faith is the product of conversion, it is a work of the Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 36:26-28,
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Ezekiel 36:26‭-‬27 NKJV
https://bible.com/bible/114/ezk.36.26-27.NKJV.

Christ tells His disciples He is leaving, He tell them he will suffer and die. Here He tells them why it has to be that way. John 14:15-18
“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:15‭-‬18 NKJV

The Doctrines of grace are a whole package not one depending on another but all in union as divine acts of God in His mercy and forgiveness. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the result of the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit quicken our soul Ephe. 2:1. Now we understand through God's word our condition. Now we have the faith to believe in Jesus Christ. By grace God has already applied the sacrifice of Christ to you expecting nothing from you. You in turn affirm Jesus is both Savior and Lord of you life. This tremendous act of mercy and forgiveness all is to the glory of God.
 

greenbaggins

Administrator
Staff member
I'm with Mark. Ephesians 2 is actually the clearest place in Scripture on this. How can dead people have faith? They have to be made alive first. The language "making alive" is resurrection language.
 
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