REGENERATION FIRST – THEN FAITH, REPENTANCE AND GOOD WORKS

REGENERATION FIRST – THEN FAITH, REPENTANCE AND GOOD WORKS

Michael Jeshurun

We must distinguish between regeneration and conversion; if we are to gain a proper understanding of salvation. Often the two are confused to be the same leading to further confusion in differentiating between that in which the sinner is completely passive (or acted upon) and that in which the sinner in a sense ‘co-operates’ yet by the acting of God!

“In the former the sinner is passive – in the latter he is active, or co-operates with the grace of God. In regeneration a principle of grace is implanted in the soul, and previous to this the sinner is incapable of moral activity; for, in the language of inspiration, he is “dead in trespasses and sins.” In conversion the soul turns to God, which imports activity; but still the sinner only acts as he is acted upon by God, who “worketh in him both to will and to do”. [Westminster]

By Regeneration I mean the initial giving of spiritual life. Also called the new birth, quickening, effectual calling, and irresistible grace are all synonymous theological terms referring to the work of the Holy Spirit in the radical transformation of the soul.” Regeneration is giving of spiritual life to one who has been dead in trespasses and sins.

Immediate – I am not using the term, immediate, here in the sense of being sudden, even though regeneration is a sudden or instantaneous act. The word, immediate, is used here is the sense of “having nothing come between; with no intermediary.” This means that the Holy Spirit is the sole agent in regeneration. Here it will be good to quote A W. Pink from his book, The Holy Spirit, pp. 56,57:

In His work of “quickening,” by which we mean the impartation of spiritual life to the soul, the Spirit acts immediately from within, and not by applying something from without. Quickening is a direct operation of the Spirit without the use of any instrument: the Word is used by Him afterwards to call into exercise the life then communicated…The soul, then, is quickened into newness of life by the direct and supernatural operation of the Spirit, without any medium or means whatever…No, men are not “quickened” by the Word, they must be quickened in order to receive and understand the Word.

Pink says on page forty-nine of the same book:

In regeneration one of God’s elect is the subject, and the Spirit of God is the sole agent. The subject of the new birth is wholly passive: he does not act but is acted upon. The sovereign work of the Spirit in the soul precedes all holy exercises of heart- such as sorrow for sin, faith in Christ, love toward God… This great change is not a gradual and protracted process, but is instantaneous: in an instant of time the favored subject of it passes from death unto life.
Beloved, I want you to bear in mind that amongst sincere Calvinists, there are those who insist in ‘Gospel Regeneration’ and those who contend for ‘Immediate Holy Spirit Regeneration’. I belong to the latter. For the sole reason that in my personal salvation experience I was regenerated without the agency of any preacher or preaching involved!

This regeneration is a Resurrection! Lazarus was helpless and passive until Jesus raised him. Jesus called him with irresistible power. Lazarus could not and did not resist the voice of Christ. Likewise, the one who is dead in trespasses and sins is helpless and passive until Christ by the Holy Spirit calls him from being spiritually dead to being spiritually alive. The one who is dead in sin cannot and will not resist the call of Christ. This call comes with irresistible power.

It is a New Birth! In natural birth, we know that the one who is born does not will to be born–in fact, he has no decision in the matter whatsoever. He doesn’t decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. God determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally. This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

It is a Creative act of God! The impartation of saving grace to individuals is also referred to in the Scriptures as a creation. “For God, Who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor. 4:6). Here, of course, Paul is referring back to the Genesis account of the creation of the heaven and the earth. How was light created? God commanded it to shine with irresistible power! “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” (Gen. 1:3). There was no resistance here. God was the active agent. The thing created was passive (indeed non-existent) until God called it into being.

So it is in the spiritual creation, says Paul. How does an individual get to know Jesus Christ with saving knowledge? God commands it as He speaks life into the heart by the Holy Spirit. God is just as sovereign in the creation of spiritual life as He was in the creation of the universe. No one helped Him create the heaven and the earth and no one helps Him give spiritual life to His people. Consider the following Scripture which teach this wonderful truth: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature (or “creation”–Grk. KTISIS): old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (II Cor. 5:17).

CONVERSION

When you search the Scriptures you will notice that nowhere in all of scripture are men commanded to “be regenerated”, but you are commanded throughout scripture to “repent and be converted” (Acts 3:19). Who will be converted? Only the regenerated can obey and follow the commands of God. God keeps regeneration solely under His complete command and control, but He has commanded you to “be converted”.

What does it mean to be converted? The fundamental biblical meaning is “to turn”—usually to turn to God. What do we turn away from when we to turn to God; what do we set aside when we are converted? Or, in different words, why do we need conversion? What separates us from God in the first place? Jesus commissioned the apostle Paul to go to the gentiles and “open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26:18).

The first thing in conversion is to cast away our misconception of what righteousness is and grasp the true meaning of righteousness. And this is revealed only in the Gospel! Consider the following verse carefully –
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith”! [Rom 1:16,17]

Here is where the Gospel comes into the picture or so to say the Gospel becomes necessary. The Gospel enables the regenerate soul to ‘see’ the righteousness of God which is credited to him whereby he is saved!

By the righteousness of God, is not meant the essential righteousness of God, the rectitude of his nature, his righteousness in fulfilling his promises, and his punitive justice, which though revealed in the Gospel, yet not peculiar to it; nor the righteousness by which Christ himself is righteous, either as God, or as Mediator; but that righteousness which he wrought out by obeying the precepts, and bearing the penalty of the law in the room of his people, and by which they are justified in the sight of God: and this is called the righteousness of God, in opposition to the righteousness of men; and because it justifies men in the sight of God; and because of the concern which Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, have in it. Jehovah the Father sent his Son to work it out, and being wrought out, he approves and accepts of it, and imputes it to his elect; Jehovah the Son is the Author of it by his obedience and death; and Jehovah the Spirit discovers it to sinners, works faith in them to lay hold upon it, and pronounces the sentence of justification by it in their consciences.

Now this is said to be revealed in the Gospel, that is, it is taught in the Gospel; that is the word of righteousness, the ministration of it; it is manifested in and by the Gospel. This righteousness is not known by the light of nature, nor by the law of Moses; it was hid under the shadows of the ceremonial law, and is brought to light only by the Gospel; it is hid from every natural man, even from the most wise and prudent, and from God’s elect themselves before conversion, and is only made known to believers, to whom it is revealed; from faith to faith; that is, as say some, from the faith of God to the faith of men; from the faith of preachers to the faith of hearers; from the faith of the Old to the faith of the New Testament saints; or rather from one degree of faith to another; for faith, as it grows and increases, has clearer sights of this righteousness, as held forth in the Gospel. [John Gill]

To condense all of the above, God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and then calls us or illuminates us by the Gospel. “Who hath saved us (regeneration), and called us (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and get saved but believes the Gospel because he is saved!

This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a mystery! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a mandeclare it unto you”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a onetime sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always partial (on this earth) and continual, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you”! [Jer 3:14] (I say this with tears in my eyes, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’ Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

“The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day!” [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!

DECISIONAL REGENERATION’ – THE LIE WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE ‘MEGA CHURCHES’ OF OUR DAY

DECISIONAL REGENERATION’ – THE LIE WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE ‘MEGA CHURCHES’ OF OUR DAY

Letter to a dear brother in response to his article on ‘Decisional Regeneration’ . . . .

Dear brother Matthew, yours was such an uplifting and scriptural article that I read it more than once and have even shared it with my friends and they in turn have shared it with their friends. (2Tim 2:2) This is indeed a MESSAGE FOR THE TIMES which those who claim to be Christians need to hear. I like the point that you brought out about the similarities between ‘baptismal regeneration’ and ‘decisional regeneration’. It’s the same error with a different coat of paint, is it not?!

When I was a newly regenerated believer who was fairly new to the Faith I had a great zeal for the Lord (I still do) and had a great desire to ‘win’ as many as I could to the Lord. After all does not Scripture teach that “He that winneth souls is wise?” The whole verse reads – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30) It was many years later before the Lord taught me that both the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ in that scripture is none other than the Lord of glory! It is HE who wins the rebellious and God hating soul by His sovereign grace. You and I can no more ‘win a soul’ than we can raise the dead!

But to return, those days I was deluded into thinking that all it took was a ‘decision’ that someone could make to invite Jesus into their heart because THAT is what I was taught. And I had a great burden to win my then Roman Catholic girlfriend of six years to the Lord. And so I would pray for her as though everything depended on prayer and preach to her at every given opportunity to get her to ‘make that decision’ for the Lord.

Little did I know that she was a lover of the writings of one Krishnamurti who is a New-Ager and she had been reading his books. So one day when I was compelling her to make this decision for the Lord and explaining to her how it was all about her choice etc, she abruptly stopped me and said “Honey, what choice are you talking about? We do not even have a choice when it comes to our birth. IF I had had a choice in the matter I would’ve chosen a different set of parents and a different country to be born in. So what ‘choice’ are you talking about? We really do not have a choice!”
Back then as an Arminian, even though I was stumped I tried to reason with her saying that “yes, while we do not have a choice as far as our birth is concerned, we still do have a choice as far as being ‘born again’ is concerned,” etc. But now looking back as someone who is established in the doctrines of Sovereign Grace especially the truth of The Total Depravity of man; I can clearly see how right she was even as an unbeliever and how wrong I was though I knew the Lord!

Concerning our choice with regards to our first birth, Loraine Boettner writes – “It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others are left to perish in unbelief. And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” – [Boettner in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

I am glad that you mentioned in your article “However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance. This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ.”

This same ‘Rev’. Billy Graham once wrote a 170 pages book titled – ‘How to be born-again”. He might as well have written a book on how to be born. For in many ways the natural birth is very similar to spiritual birth!

And just as we had no say in the former, neither do we have any say in the latter! And as far as ‘choice’ goes, every man who comes into the world by natural GENERATION ALREADY MADE THAT CHOICE IN ADAM as far his eternal destiny is concerned! “In Adam all die!” (1Cor 15:22) To humbly accept this truth and preach it from the rooftops is to sign your ‘death warrant’ as far as any ‘success’ in the Ministry goes! This truth can only be received by truly regenerated men, the rest of the bench-warmers will trample it under their feet, and turn again and rend you if they could!

In natural birth, we know that the one who is BORN DOES NOT WILL TO BE BORN–in fact, he (as as my old girlfriend reminded me) has NO SAY IN THE MATTER WHATSOEVER! He does not decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born etc. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. GOD determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.

This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” i.e. “The new birth is “not of blood (by natural descent), nor of the will of the flesh (his own volition), nor of the will of man (the preacher’s persuasion), but OF GOD” [John 1:13] [A.W. Pink]

This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and THEN CALLS US OR ILLUMINATES US BY THE GOSPEL. “Who hath SAVED US (regeneration), and CALLED US (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and GET SAVED but believes the Gospel BECAUSE HE IS SAVED!
This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a MYSTERY! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “BEHOLD, ye despisers, and WONDER, and PERISH: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in NO WISE BELIEVE, though A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a ONETIME sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always PARTIAL (on this earth) and CONTINUAL, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU”! [Jer 3:14] (my eyes well-up as I write this, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’, Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day! [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!
Great article again from you my dear Brother Matthew! Keep them coming!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

THE CHRISTIAN’S NEW-BIRTH CANNOT BE EXPLAINED

THE CHRISTIAN’S NEW-BIRTH CANNOT BE EXPLAINED

Letter to a dear brother in response to his article on ‘Decisional Regeneration’ . . . .

Dear brother Matthew, yours was such an uplifting and scriptural article that I read it more than once and have even shared it with my friends and they in turn have shared it with their friends. (2Tim 2:2) This is indeed a MESSAGE FOR THE TIMES which those who claim to be Christians need to hear. I like the point that you brought out about the similarities between ‘baptismal regeneration’ and ‘decisional regeneration’. It’s the same error with a different coat of paint, is it not?!

When I was a newly regenerated believer who was fairly new to the Faith I had a great zeal for the Lord (I still do) and had a great desire to ‘win’ as many as I could to the Lord. After all does not Scripture teach that “He that winneth souls is wise?” The whole verse reads – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30) It was many years later before the Lord taught me that both the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ in that scripture is none other than the Lord of glory! It is HE who wins the rebellious and God hating soul by His sovereign grace. You and I can no more ‘win a soul’ than we can raise the dead!

But to return, those days I was deluded into thinking that all it took was a ‘decision’ that someone could make to invite Jesus into their heart because THAT is what I was taught. And I had a great burden to win my then Roman Catholic girlfriend of six years to the Lord. And so I would pray for her as though everything depended on prayer and preach to her at every given opportunity to get her to ‘make that decision’ for the Lord.

Little did I know that she was a lover of the writings of one Krishnamurti who is a New-Ager and she had been reading his books. So one day when I was compelling her to make this decision for the Lord and explaining to her how it was all about her choice etc, she abruptly stopped me and said “Honey, what choice are you talking about? We do not even have a choice when it comes to our birth. IF I had had a choice in the matter I would’ve chosen a different set of parents and a different country to be born in. So what ‘choice’ are you talking about? We really do not have a choice!”

Back then as an Arminian, even though I was stumped I tried to reason with her saying that “yes, while we do not have a choice as far as our birth is concerned, we still do have a choice as far as being ‘born again’ is concerned,” etc. But now looking back as someone who is established in the doctrines of Sovereign Grace especially the truth of The Total Depravity of man; I can clearly see how right she was even as an unbeliever and how wrong I was though I knew the Lord!

Concerning our choice with regards to our first birth, Loraine Boettner writes – “It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others are left to perish in unbelief. And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” – [Boettner in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

I am glad that you mentioned in your article “However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance. This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ.”

This same ‘Rev’. Billy Graham once wrote a 170 pages book titled – ‘How to be born-again”. He might as well have written a book on how to be born. For in many ways the natural birth is very similar to spiritual birth!

And just as we had no say in the former, neither do we have any say in the latter! And as far as ‘choice’ goes, every man who comes into the world by natural GENERATION ALREADY MADE THAT CHOICE IN ADAM as far his eternal destiny is concerned! “In Adam all die!” (1Cor 15:22) To humbly accept this truth and preach it from the rooftops is to sign your ‘death warrant’ as far as any ‘success’ in the Ministry goes! This truth can only be received by truly regenerated men, the rest of the bench-warmers will trample it under their feet, and turn again and rend you if they could!

In natural birth, we know that the one who is BORN DOES NOT WILL TO BE BORN–in fact, he (as as my old girlfriend reminded me) has NO SAY IN THE MATTER WHATSOEVER! He does not decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born etc. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. GOD determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.

This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” i.e. “The new birth is “not of blood (by natural descent), nor of the will of the flesh (his own volition), nor of the will of man (the preacher’s persuasion), but OF GOD” [John 1:13] [A.W. Pink]

This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and THEN CALLS US OR ILLUMINATES US BY THE GOSPEL. “Who hath SAVED US (regeneration), and CALLED US (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and GET SAVED but believes the Gospel BECAUSE HE IS SAVED!

This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a MYSTERY! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “BEHOLD, ye despisers, and WONDER, and PERISH: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in NO WISE BELIEVE, though A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a ONETIME sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always PARTIAL (on this earth) and CONTINUAL, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU”! [Jer 3:14] (my eyes well-up as I write this, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’, Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day! [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!

Great article again from you my dear Brother Matthew! Keep them coming!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

DECISIONAL REGENERATION’ – THE GREAT LIE WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE ‘MEGA CHURCHES’ OF OUR DAY

DECISIONAL REGENERATION’ – THE GREAT LIE WHICH ACCOUNTS FOR THE ‘MEGA CHURCHES’ OF OUR DAY

Letter to a dear brother in response to his article on ‘Decisional Regeneration’ . . . .

Dear brother Matthew, yours was such an uplifting and scriptural article that I read it more than once and have even shared it with my friends and they in turn have shared it with their friends. (2Tim 2:2) This is indeed a MESSAGE FOR THE TIMES which those who claim to be Christians need to hear. I like the point that you brought out about the similarities between ‘baptismal regeneration’ and ‘decisional regeneration’. It’s the same error with a different coat of paint, is it not?!

When I was a newly regenerated believer who was fairly new to the Faith I had a great zeal for the Lord (I still do) and had a great desire to ‘win’ as many as I could to the Lord. After all does not Scripture teach that “He that winneth souls is wise?” The whole verse reads – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30) It was many years later before the Lord taught me that both the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ in that scripture is none other than the Lord of glory! It is HE who wins the rebellious and God hating soul by His sovereign grace. You and I can no more ‘win a soul’ than we can raise the dead!

But to return, those days I was deluded into thinking that all it took was a ‘decision’ that someone could make to invite Jesus into their heart because THAT is what I was taught. And I had a great burden to win my then Roman Catholic girlfriend of six years to the Lord. And so I would pray for her as though everything depended on prayer and preach to her at every given opportunity to get her to ‘make that decision’ for the Lord.

Little did I know that she was a lover of the writings of one Krishnamurti who is a New-Ager and she had been reading his books. So one day when I was compelling her to make this decision for the Lord and explaining to her how it was all about her choice etc, she abruptly stopped me and said “Honey, what choice are you talking about? We do not even have a choice when it comes to our birth. IF I had had a choice in the matter I would’ve chosen a different set of parents and a different country to be born in. So what ‘choice’ are you talking about? We really do not have a choice!”

Back then as an Arminian, even though I was stumped I tried to reason with her saying that “yes, while we do not have a choice as far as our birth is concerned, we still do have a choice as far as being ‘born again’ is concerned,” etc. But now looking back as someone who is established in the doctrines of Sovereign Grace especially the truth of The Total Depravity of man; I can clearly see how right she was even as an unbeliever and how wrong I was though I knew the Lord!

Concerning our choice with regards to our first birth, Loraine Boettner writes – “It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others are left to perish in unbelief. And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” – [Boettner in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

I am glad that you mentioned in your article “However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance. This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ.”

This same ‘Rev’. Billy Graham once wrote a 170 pages book titled – ‘How to be born-again”. He might as well have written a book on how to be born. For in many ways the natural birth is very similar to spiritual birth!

And just as we had no say in the former, neither do we have any say in the latter! And as far as ‘choice’ goes, every man who comes into the world by natural GENERATION ALREADY MADE THAT CHOICE IN ADAM as far his eternal destiny is concerned! “In Adam all die!” (1Cor 15:22) To humbly accept this truth and preach it from the rooftops is to sign your ‘death warrant’ as far as any ‘success’ in the Ministry goes! This truth can only be received by truly regenerated men, the rest of the bench-warmers will trample it under their feet, and turn again and rend you if they could!

In natural birth, we know that the one who is BORN DOES NOT WILL TO BE BORN–in fact, he (as as my old girlfriend reminded me) has NO SAY IN THE MATTER WHATSOEVER! He does not decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born etc. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. GOD determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.

This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” i.e. “The new birth is “not of blood (by natural descent), nor of the will of the flesh (his own volition), nor of the will of man (the preacher’s persuasion), but OF GOD” [John 1:13] [A.W. Pink]

This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and THEN CALLS US OR ILLUMINATES US BY THE GOSPEL. “Who hath SAVED US (regeneration), and CALLED US (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and GET SAVED but believes the Gospel BECAUSE HE IS SAVED!

This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a MYSTERY! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “BEHOLD, ye despisers, and WONDER, and PERISH: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in NO WISE BELIEVE, though A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a ONETIME sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always PARTIAL (on this earth) and CONTINUAL, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU”! [Jer 3:14] (my eyes well-up as I write this, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’, Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day! [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!

Great article again from you my dear Brother Matthew! Keep them coming!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

THE MYSTERY OF THE NEW-BIRTH

THE MYSTERY OF THE NEW-BIRTH

Letter to a dear brother in response to his article on ‘Decisional Regeneration’ . . . .

Dear brother Matthew, yours was such an uplifting and scriptural article that I read it more than once and have even shared it with my friends and they in turn have shared it with their friends. (2Tim 2:2) This is indeed a MESSAGE FOR THE TIMES which those who claim to be Christians need to hear. I like the point that you brought out about the similarities between ‘baptismal regeneration’ and ‘decisional regeneration’. It’s the same error with a different coat of paint, is it not?!

When I was a newly regenerated believer who was fairly new to the Faith I had a great zeal for the Lord (I still do) and had a great desire to ‘win’ as many as I could to the Lord. After all does not Scripture teach that “He that winneth souls is wise?” The whole verse reads – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30) It was many years later before the Lord taught me that both the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ in that scripture is none other than the Lord of glory! It is HE who wins the rebellious and God hating soul by His sovereign grace. You and I can no more ‘win a soul’ than we can raise the dead!

But to return, those days I was deluded into thinking that all it took was a ‘decision’ that someone could make to invite Jesus into their heart because THAT is what I was taught. And I had a great burden to win my then Roman Catholic girlfriend of six years to the Lord. And so I would pray for her as though everything depended on prayer and preach to her at every given opportunity to get her to ‘make that decision’ for the Lord.

Little did I know that she was a lover of the writings of one Krishnamurti who is a New-Ager and she had been reading his books. So one day when I was compelling her to make this decision for the Lord and explaining to her how it was all about her choice etc, she abruptly stopped me and said “Honey, what choice are you talking about? We do not even have a choice when it comes to our birth. IF I had had a choice in the matter I would’ve chosen a different set of parents and a different country to be born in. So what ‘choice’ are you talking about? We really do not have a choice!”

Back then as an Arminian, even though I was stumped I tried to reason with her saying that “yes, while we do not have a choice as far as our birth is concerned, we still do have a choice as far as being ‘born again’ is concerned,” etc. But now looking back as someone who is established in the doctrines of Sovereign Grace especially the truth of The Total Depravity of man; I can clearly see how right she was even as an unbeliever and how wrong I was though I knew the Lord!

Concerning our choice with regards to our first birth, Loraine Boettner writes – “It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others are left to perish in unbelief. And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” – [Boettner in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

I am glad that you mentioned in your article “However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance. This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ.”

This same ‘Rev’. Billy Graham once wrote a 170 pages book titled – ‘How to be born-again”. He might as well have written a book on how to be born. For in many ways the natural birth is very similar to spiritual birth!

And just as we had no say in the former, neither do we have any say in the latter! And as far as ‘choice’ goes, every man who comes into the world by natural GENERATION ALREADY MADE THAT CHOICE IN ADAM as far his eternal destiny is concerned! “In Adam all die!” (1Cor 15:22) To humbly accept this truth and preach it from the rooftops is to sign your ‘death warrant’ as far as any ‘success’ in the Ministry goes! This truth can only be received by truly regenerated men, the rest of the bench-warmers will trample it under their feet, and turn again and rend you if they could!

In natural birth, we know that the one who is BORN DOES NOT WILL TO BE BORN–in fact, he (as as my old girlfriend reminded me) has NO SAY IN THE MATTER WHATSOEVER! He does not decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born etc. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. GOD determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.

This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” i.e. “The new birth is “not of blood (by natural descent), nor of the will of the flesh (his own volition), nor of the will of man (the preacher’s persuasion), but OF GOD” [John 1:13] [A.W. Pink]

This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and THEN CALLS US OR ILLUMINATES US BY THE GOSPEL. “Who hath SAVED US (regeneration), and CALLED US (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and GET SAVED but believes the Gospel BECAUSE HE IS SAVED!

This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a MYSTERY! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “BEHOLD, ye despisers, and WONDER, and PERISH: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in NO WISE BELIEVE, though A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a ONETIME sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always PARTIAL (on this earth) and CONTINUAL, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU”! [Jer 3:14] (my eyes well-up as I write this, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’, Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day! [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!

Great article again from you my dear Brother Matthew! Keep them coming!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun

THE FALSE GOSPEL AND FALSE CONVERTS OF D.L. MOODY

THE FALSE GOSPEL AND FALSE CONVERTS OF D.L. MOODY

J.K. Popham (1847-1837)

I am bound to say I am opposed to the religious movement of which Messrs, Moody and Sankey are the leaders. I am opposed to it because I fail to see what Mr. Moody so confidently asserted at Birmingham – that the present work is God’s. Every religious movement must be judged more by its doctrines than by what we usually see paraded – results. The teachings of its leaders must be brought to God’s word, and tested by it. “To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” [Isa 8:20]

If God were in this movement, would not the teachings of its leaders be in accordance with the word of truth? But where are the cardinal doctrines of the Bible to be found in their teachings? Are they not either ignored or pushed aside to make way for their PET notion of “sudden conversion?”

Where, in all Mr. Moody’s preaching, do we find any declaration of the doctrine of eternal election, that decree of the eternal God which secures some men from everlasting woe? And, yet, this is one of the great doctrines of the Bible. Rom. ix. 11, xi. 5, 7. Eph. i. 4, 11. 1 Thess. i. 4. 1 Peter I. 2, and, indeed, throughout the whole of the scriptures it is seen as a clear and beautiful light. But such a doctrine as this, which takes salvation out of the hands of man, and places it in the hands of Omnipotence and of sovereign grace, would not suit these man-made revivals, for, then, Mr. Moody would not have, as at Birmingham, four thousand “converts” to exhibit.

If Mr. Moody had received the doctrine of election into his heart in the love of it, he could not, I repeat, have used the above expressions. But, it may be objected, to preach the doctrine of election to such congregations as Messrs. Moody and Sankey preach and sing to, would be altogether out of place—that it might be abused—that it would drive the majority of hearers away. I reply, that the Lord Jesus of whose meekness we bear so much, opened his ministry in Nazareth by proclaiming this truth, and could only save His life by a miracle, because of the enmity His preaching stirred up in the minds of His hearers—that he told the Pharisees over and over again that they were not His sheep, that that was the cause of their not believing in Him. And shall we censure the lips of truth and wisdom by saying such a doctrine ought not to be preached? “But,” one may say again, “the times are so much altered,” true, but is the gospel? Are its doctrines less true, less imperative, less profitable?

All scripture is profitable for doctrine, then is the doctrine of free, UNCONDITIONAL election profitable? For it humbles proud nature, it declares that all men are aliens from God, and that He will dispense His mercy in a sovereign manner, freely, and, WHERE and WHEN He will. “For He saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.” Rom. ix. 15, 16. But Mr. Moody cannot bear this doctrine, for the glorious blaze of it would put out his sparks and leave him in darkness.

Taking for his text John 3: 3 Mr. Moody remarked that “Regeneration was coming to Christ as a poor, lost, ruined sinner, and taking life from Him.” What is this! A DEAD soul WALKING to Christ for life! The ACT and MOTION of life the cause of that life! No mention of the eternal and ever blessed Spirit’s gracious work on the soul, no; but the dead sinner’s ceasing from certain specified work, and commencing another, or rather others, “coming and taking.” Regeneration, then, is a dead soul, performing the most active functions of life! Truly this is strange blindness. Had this teacher ever been under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, whose divine person and work he ignored, while preaching a subject which especially sets forth that person and that work, he would have known that in regeneration the soul is passive. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth.” James i. 18. “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man but of God.” John 1: 13

As men contribute nothing to their first birth, so neither to the second; as no man generates himself, so neither can he regenerate himself; as an infant is passive in its natural generation, and has no concern in it; so passive is a man in his spiritual generation, and is no more assisting in it. It is a maxim that will hold good, “nil dat quod non habet” (nothing can give that which it has not).” [Dr. Gill] This is the teaching of the scripture, but the teaching of this “Evangelist” is totally different. According to Mr. Moody there is no need of the astonishing grace and power promised in Ez. xxxvii. 12, 13, for all that is required to regenerate is within the dead sinner’s power—it is ceasing from one work and commencing another! Dr. Kennedy, in his very able tract, “Hyper-evangelism, another gospel, though a mighty power,” written against this same movement in Scotland, says on page 16, “After some strong sayings about the necessity of regeneration, in one of the leader’s addresses, the question was put, “How is this change to be attained?” And the speaker answered the question by saying, “You believe, and then you are regenerated,” and in confirmation he referred to John i. 12, forgetting the verse which follows. Ah! but would not the recollection of that most important verse have been fatal to this anti-scriptural theory of “regeneration by faith?” for it takes conversion out of the meddling hands of man, and exposes the hollowness of the question “Now, who will take the gift this night?” and thus be regenerated!

THE ILLUSTRATION OF THE ORANGE AND THE SCISSORS DEBUNKED

In the next place I find Mr. Moody’s teachings respecting sin are lamentably defective. To be sure he speaks of sin, and tells his hearers that they must “come to Christ as poor, lost, ruined sinners.” But this is nullified by what is said about sin elsewhere. “My wife,” he said at one meeting, “has a little boy, who, on one occasion, got possession of a pair of scissors. His sister tried to get them from him, but failed. She then got an orange, which she held before the little fellow, he dropped the scissors for the orange; he got something better. And so it is with the gospel. You give up your sins, and in Christ you find that which is infinitely better.”

An illustration should bear some proportion of truth and fitness to the thing to be illustrated. It is not so in this ease. Sin is not spoken of, in the Bible, as something extraneous, belonging to an entirely different substance from the sinner. It is plainly declared to be a component part of his nature. “The carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Rom. viii. 7. “The old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts.” Eph. iv. 22. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Ephesians ii. 1. “But I am carnal, sold under sin.” Rom. vii. 14. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer. xvii. 9. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” Ps. li. 5.

If Mr. Moody had felt the guilt and power of sin in his own conscience, and known what an evil thing and bitter it is to sin against God, he could not talk so lightly of it.

It is not true that a person can give up his sins, and take Christ, as the child the scissors. Can he drop his carnal mind? “Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.” “Hurried with violent impressions from the devil, into the service of idols.” [Dr. Owen’s paraphrase] Therefore, “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”

It is a mournful thing that any person should profess to be a teacher of religion who manifests the grossest, the most entire ignorance of the very rudiments of Christianity. And still more and that thousands should have to listen to such a teacher. But they love to have it so. The one comes with a cry of “Peace,” the others say “Prophesy smooth things.” But, without doubt, God is greatly dishonoured by such teaching, and He will say to all false teachers “Who hath required this at your hands?”

CHRIST KNOCKING AT THE DOOR OF THE HUMAN HEART DEBUNKED

It is truly awful to see the dishonour done to Christ by the preaching and singing of these “Evangelists.” Where are the scripture evidences that Christ is knocking, and “has knocked many times already,” at the heart of every person to whom Messrs. Moody and Sankey may speak or sing? If He desires to dwell in this or that particular heart, what shall hinder?

Mr. Moody is singularly unfortunate in his illustrations, or rather they are remarkably unscriptural. He tells us, “A woman in Glasgow got into difficulties. Her rent was due, but she had no money for the landlord. A Christian man hearing of her trouble went to her house with the kind intention of helping her. He knocked at her door, but in vain; there was no door opened. He had to return without completing his mission. Learning afterwards who it was that knocked at her door she exclaimed, “Why, I thought it was the landlord, and I was afraid to open the door!” Then follows the application, concluding with the remark, “And, now, He comes! bringing the gift of salvation to the door of your hearts. Will you receive the gift?”

Here is the unfitness of the application, the poor woman did not know the knock of the gentleman who went with help; but Christ says “My sheep hear My voice,” and it is indeed a mighty and sweet voice. John x. 27, see also Psalm xxix, 4. Here is the untruthfulness of it,—that Christ will go away from any heart to which He approaches. If He comes, it is with a fixed purpose, and He will not repent of that, it is INDEED with a gift, and that He will not repent of. Num. xxiii, 19. Rom. xi, 29. Besides, if He comes to a dead sinner it is not to ASK him to OPEN his heart, but to breathe life into the soul. “The hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” John v. 25. Neither does He come to a living, burdened, guilty, ready-to-perish soul, to OFFER pardon, but TO PARDON ACTUALLY, and remove the guilt. And when He comes to one who is in prison, in his feelings, and who fears the pit will shut her mouth upon him, it is not to OFFER LIBERTY, but to GIVE IT: for He is sent to “proclaim liberty to the captives, and the OPENING of the prison to them that are bound.” But a gospel so Sovereign in every branch of it, so mighty in its application—leaving man nothing to boast of—is hated by those who have not been under the humbling, but saving teaching of the Holy Spirit.

Assuming that it is the will of God that every creature should be saved, which is not true, men have made the conversion of sinners an art, and have resorted to all sorts of unscriptural methods to compass their end. “Sadly forgetful” of Him who said “I kill, and I make alive,” they are “madly bold” in their efforts to wrest God’s special work out of His hands.

The parable of the sower is NOT applicable to this religious movement, since Mr. Moody has no GOOD seed to sow. To be sure he reads the word of God, but, then, he endeavours to expound it, and this exposition is nothing less than a fouling of the pure waters of truth. Ez. xxxiv. 19.

Fundamental errors, preached and sang, cannot produce a TRUE Christian!

THE GOSPEL IS NEVER ‘EXPLAINED’ ONLY PREACHED!

THE GOSPEL IS NEVER ‘EXPLAINED’ ONLY PREACHED!

Michael Jeshurun

The Master said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature!” [Mark 16:15] The Greek word for preach here kēryxate – means to proclaim, herald or preach. But sadly for a long time in my ministry I have tried to ‘explain’ the Gospel with hopes of converting the hearer. And in almost all cases for these many years I have found to my dismay that whenever I have had to ‘explain’ the Gospel . . . I’ve been explaining it to a ‘natural man’ who just cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God! [1Cor 2:14]

Oh yes, I still try to show my lost nominal Christian relatives that they need to be ‘born-again’; and there’s nothing wrong in doing that. In fact our Lord Himself told the most religious Pharisee of His day that he needed to be born again, did He not? But for the most part trying to prove to our nominal Christian friends and relatives that they aren’t saved does not in any way save them. Because at the end of your little discourse, about all they can say is what old Nicodemus himself said, “How can these things be?!” [John 3:9]

And our Lord does not go about explaining HOW the new birth occurs, or HOW one is actually born again, but leaves the wonder of the New-birth still in the realm of mystery . . . “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!” [John 3;8]

“A comparison is here drawn between the wind and the Spirit. The comparison is a double one: first, BOTH ARE SOVEREIGN IN THEIR ACTIONS, and second, BOTH ARE MYSTERIOUS IN THEIR OPERATIONS. The comparison is pointed out in the word ‘so’. The first point of analogy is seen in the words ‘where it listeth’ or ‘pleaseth’; the second is found in the words ‘canst not tell.’

‘The wind bloweth WHERE IT PLEASETH … so is every one that is born of the Spirit.’ The wind is an element which man can neither harness nor hinder. The wind neither consults man’s pleasure nor can it be regulated by his devices. So it is with the Spirit. The wind blows when it pleases, where it pleases, as it pleases. So it is with the Spirit. The wind is regulated by Divine wisdom, yet so far as man is concerned, it is absolutely sovereign in its operations. So it is with the Spirit. Sometimes the wind blows so softly it scarcely rustles a leaf; at other times it blows so loudly that its roar can be heard for miles. So it is in the matter of the new birth; with some the Holy Spirit deals so gently, that His work is imperceptible to human onlookers; with others His action is so powerful, radical, revolutionary, that His operations are patent to many.

Sometimes the wind is purely local in its reach, at other times widespread in its scope. So it is with the Spirit: today He acts on one or two souls, tomorrow He may, as at Pentecost, ‘prick in the heart’ a whole multitude. But whether He works on few or many, He consults not man. He acts as He pleases. The new birth is due to the sovereign will of the Spirit.” – A.W. Pink

And if the ‘new-birth’ is by the Sovereign will of the Spirit and a mysterious one at that, then it is not brought about by any effort of mine. My job as a preacher is only to “Loose him, and let him go!” I cannot raise Lazarus! [John 11:43,44]

Beloved I say these things not because I read about them in a theology book somewhere, but from my own personal experience in my own salvation and in the salvation of those I am intimately acquainted with. When the good Lord saved me or more specifically regenerated me there was no ‘preacher’ involved to explain to me HOW I could be born-again!

One stormy night (O that glorious night) I just got off my bed and walked over to a nearby Church building (because as a new born babe THAT was where I figured I could talk to God); and I just stood outside those locked Church doors and wept my heart out telling the Lord what a great sinner I had been as a Satanist, a drug addict, and gangster; and that I was truly sorry for all my sins. And I also added, “I know that You can never forgive someone as vile as ME, but I just want you to know that I love you and am right now renouncing my Satanism, drug addiction and wicked way of life”!

A few weeks later some American missionaries were in my neighbourhood randomly going door to door with gospel tracts. And out of the nearly twenty four houses on my street they picked mine. They later told me that they had felt a strong ‘leading’ to knock on MY house. And when I told them my story, one of the men pulled out his old King James Bible and made me read for the first time Romans 3:23 – “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus etc”

Spurgeon in one of his sermons says, “Before Salvation came into this world, Election marched in the very forefront, and it had for its work the billeting of Salvation. Election went through the world and marked the houses to which Salvation should come and the hearts in which the treasure should be deposited. Election looked through all the race of man, from Adam down to the last, and marked with sacred stamp those for whom Salvation was designed. “He must needs go through Samaria,” said Election; and Salvation must go there.”

This missionary went on to explain to me that Heaven was a place filled with forgiven sinners and Christ actually did not come for those who deem themselves righteous but for sinners like me (Mark 2:17) and that I could never be too bad for Jesus! THIS was news to me! It was something I had never heard – the ‘Gospel’ if you will!

These missionaries even got me to pray the old ‘salvation prayer’ and ask Jesus into my heart, little knowing that He was already there by the sovereign operation of the Spirit!

And isn’t that how it is all through history? The Apostle Paul was born-again long before Ananias met him in the street called Straight [Acts 9:11] and likewise Cornelius, the Ethiopian Eunuch and every child of God saved since then.

The apostle Paul was religious Pharisee who had been a regular attendee at the Jewish temple and had prayed nominal religious prayers all his life; and yet following his regeneration one of the characteristics which our Lord used to describe him to Ananias was – “Behold he prayeth!” [Acts 9:11] Now THAT is the mark of a truly regenerated soul they repent, believe and they pray!

The regenerated soul right away ‘sees’ the heinousness of his sin and also the fountain opened for sin! [Zech 13:1] If I as a preacher have to labour hard to show someone what a great sinner he is, there could be a good chance that I am trying to convince a ‘natural man’ who has no relish for the things of  God.

But to return, repentance and faith immediately follow regeneration! Sometimes just as the blind man at Bethsaida who had His eyes opened, but saw “men as trees walking” [Mark 8:24], the regenerated soul may not see all spiritual truths CLEARLY. And it may take a ‘second touch’ from the Lord to accomplish this.

But generally speaking, faith , belief, conversion or ‘seeing the light’ if you will follows on the very heels of Regeneration. Saul was regenerated on the road to Damascus and three days later the Lord sends Ananias to pray over Saul and cause him to receive sight and learn a little more about this Jesus from the disciples at Damascus. Shortly following Cornelius’ regeneration the apostle Peter is sent to him. God had already made an incredible change in his life by giving him a heart that separated him from other Italians. The life-giving voice of the Lord Jesus Christ had called for him to live spiritually, and he lived as certainly as Lazarus came forth from the tomb. He only needed Peter to loose him from some Roman and Jewish burial clothes!

Peter brought the gospel to save Cornelius from despair over his sins [Luke 7:36-50; Rom 7:24-25], from Jewish ignorance of salvation [Rom 10:1-5], from Roman idolatry and superstition [I Thess 1:9-10], from ignorance about life and immortality [II Tim 1:9-10], and from confusion about the resurrection [I Cor 15:2]. He needed to learn the way of God more perfectly [Acts 18:24-28], and how to prove his election [II Pet 1:5-11].

Same with the Ethiopian Eunuch. Shortly following his regeneration God sends Philip to preach the truth to him and lead him in a believer’s baptism.

The point of all this being that generally speaking God always sends His preachers to His children whom He has sovereignly regenerated that they may hear the Gospel and thereby believe. [Rom 10:14] The job of the evangelist or missionary is not to bring about the new-birth but to bring “life and immortality to light” to the already regenerated soul through the Gospel!

Sometimes regeneration and ‘belief’ can be simultaneous and at other times it may be a short while before the regenerated soul is shown the truth and made to believe.

BUT GET THIS – THERE ARE NO ‘REGENERATED UNBELIEVERS’ WALKING AROUND WHO WERE REGENERATED MANY YEARS AGO!

Conversion or ‘belief’ immediately follows Regeneration, but it make take the converted believer some time before he sees all things clearly.

“But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day.” [Prov 4:18]

Praise the Lord!

THE TWO PILLARS OF SOUND DOCTRINE

THE TWO PILLARS OF SOUND DOCTRINE

Matthew Pacifico 

While we in no way discount the value of learning, in its proper place, it can’t be sufficiently emphasized that the key to a correct understanding of holy Scripture is not in theological seminaries. In order to receive the great teachings of Grace, there are two FOUNDATIONAL OR PIVOTAL truths which must, by the enabling of the blessed Spirit, be thoroughly established in the heart; these are:

(1) THE ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD – “But our God is in the heavens: HE HATH DONE WHATSOVER HE HATH PLEASED,” (Ps.115:3)
(2) THE TOTAL MORAL AND SPIRITUAL DEPRAVITY OF ALL MEN. “Behold, I am VILE!” (Job 40:4).

We repeat, these two great truths are the pillars which support all scriptural teaching, so that a failure to fully grasp them will unfit us to correctly interpret the Bible – especially its teachings regarding the salvation of man. And it is just with these two pivotal truths that we encounter an enormous difficulty – our deep-rooted PRIDE AND SENSE OF SELF-SUFFICIENCY.

O how unwilling we are to acknowledge these strongholds of inherited depravity within us! And how unaware we are of the way that they pervert our interpretation of holy Scripture! For many a year did this poor writer zealously war against the God Who could do AS HE PLEASED. And for just as many years did he loudly contend that, though sinful, man was not TOTALLY DEPRAVED AND CORRUPT – that he had a WILL, perhaps as sovereign and sacred as God Himself (I say it to my deep shame) -a will that not even God “had a right to interfere with.” O the amazing patience and longsuffering of God!

Reader, the Lord be very gracious to you and bless you to see the path of error that brings you to oppose the glorious truth of the true Christian’s eternal security. Don’t you believe that though it was absolutely necessary that Christ should die for your sins, yet ultimately, IT WAS YOUR CHOOSING, YOUR WILLING, YOUR DECISION which made you a partaker of salvation? And can’t you see that SINCE (AS YOU BELIEVE) IT WAS BY AN ACT OF YOUR WILL THAT YOU CAME TO CHRIST, THEN LOGICALLY, BY AN ACT OF THAT SAME “SACRED” WILL, YOU CAN CHOOSE TO ETERNALLY DEPART FROM CHRIST?

Ah, beloved reader, as this writer once did, and as all rejectors of the saints’ security in Christ always do, it is your blindness to your total moral ruin that hinders you from seeing the precious truth. It is this little bit of IMAGINARY good or virtue which you unconsciously see in yourself, which also makes you see yourself as the DETERMINER of whether or not you come to come to Christ, and whether or not you stay in Christ after coming to Him. For your own sake, O do admit the awful, solemn truth! : In the matter of your eternal salvation you see – not God, BUT YOURSELF “IN THE DRIVER’S SEAT”, with the abiding prerogative to “take it or leave it” as seems good to YOU.

No, don’t be deceived, it’s not a humble sense of weakness and insufficiency that makes you believe you may yet “lose your salvation”. If, like Job, you saw yourself thoroughly “vile”, unable to contribute an atom to your own salvation, you would be constrained to cast yourself entirely on the precious Christ, and then the eternal security of your poor soul would shine into your heart like a glorious sunrise. Seeing our most glorious Redeemer as not only the Author, but also the FINISHER of your faith (Heb.l2:2), you would also immediately see what a horridly proud, deceitful perverting of Gospel truth you have been involved in. But alas! this is not your case, you’re not able to see yourself for the utterly bankrupt, naked and sinful creature that you really are, with the result that you see your destiny as ultimately IN YOUR OWN HANDS. Are you sure you really want that?

For many centuries Roman Catholics and Anglicans have been deluded by “Baptismal regeneration” or the belief that it is water baptism which puts a person in Christ. But there is an error, more subtle and much more recent, which has greatly overspread what we might call Evangelical Christendom, and that is the teaching of “Decisional regeneration”, the belief that what really clinches a man’s salvation is an ACT OR DECISION OF HIS WILL; and the awful irony is that this deception was introduced by men who otherwise can only be called honored servants of God.

It was the gifted Charles G. Finney (l792-l875) who originally popularized this error by rejecting the truth of man’s total depravity, and also teaching that the sinner COULD, and SHOULD come to Christ BY AN IMMEDIATE ACT OF HIS OWN WILL. Dwight L. Moody (l837-l899) and Reuben R. Torrey (l856-l928) avoided Finney’s other unscriptural methods, but his “Decisional regeneration” was an unmistakable element in their campaigns. However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance.

This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ. Thou knowest, most gracious Lord, how often I tried to lead poor sinners through the “steps of salvation”, had them “pray the sinner’s prayer” and then told them that they were saved. I was acting on what knowledge I had, but I was SO WRONG! O, why could I not see that by birth and nature we are not only BLIND (Luke 4:l) and LOST (Luke l5:32), but also DEAD (luke l5:32)?

And who but Thou, most glorious Prince of Life, can raise the dead? By Thy gracious instruction I now know that until Thou dost “REVEAL THINE ALMIGHTY ARM” (Isa.53:1) we remain in our graves, though professing to be Christians or even prominent preachers.

O what great mischief has the enemy worked through this “Decisional regeneration”, this daring to exalt the will of polluted man above the will of God! This is the great engine that has produced the “emerging super churches”, has well-nigh extinguished the light of true Christian testimony in America, is steadily bringing the nation to its total ruin and has influenced some of Thine own beloved people to believe that the salvation purchased by Thy most, precious, precious Blood can be lost. O the horrid and damnable lie that so exalts the corrupt will of man! O Lord, make known Thine own holy, sovereign, irresistible will to every reader. “In Whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of HIM WHO WORKETH ALL THINGS AFTER THE COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL.” (Eph.1:11)

Exalted Prince of life! we own the honors of Thy throne;
‘Tis fixed by God’s almighty hand, and seraphs bow at Thy command.
Exalted Savior! we confess the sovereign triumphs of Thy grace;
Where beams of gentle radiance shine, and temper majesty divine.
Wide Thy resistless scepter sway, till all Thine enemies obey;
Wide may the Cross its virtues prove, and conquer millions by Thy love.
Mighty to vanquish and forgive, Thine Israel SHALL repent and LIVE –
And loud proclaim Thy healing breath, which works their life who wrought Thy death. . . . . . . P. Doddridge

 

IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS TODAY, IT IS BECAUSE GOD PLACED YOU IN HIM AND NOTHING ELSE

IF YOU ARE IN CHRIST JESUS TODAY, IT IS BECAUSE GOD PLACED YOU IN HIM AND NOTHING ELSE

Michael Jeshurun

That’s right! You are not a regenerated Christian today because you prayed a little ‘Salvation prayer’ one day or walked an aisle, raised a hand, signed a card or sincerely sought for the truth or whatever! You are a saved Christian today BECAUSE before the world began God placed you in Christ by Sovereign Election and nothing else!

Yes, you may have sincerely made that choice to follow Him, and even prayed that ‘Salvation-prayer’ or repented of your sins and believed in Him etc; but all of that WAS A RESULT of your Regeneration of which you had no say in.

An understanding of the truth, faith, repentance and good works are all a RESULT of your being made alive from the spiritual death in which you were lying in. The Scripture cannot be clearer – “And you hath he quickened, WHO WERE DEAD in trespasses and sins!” [Eph 2:1; Col 2:13]

AND THE ‘DEAD’ CANNOT AND DO NOT ‘WILL’ ANYTHING! 

Here is some wisdom from Dr. John Gill on this –

Free-will brings with it so many absurdities that it cannot be received.

1. It makes man the cause of his own salvation.

2. It puts grace into man’s power, not man’s will under the power of grace.

3. It robs God of the honour of making one to differ from another, and ascribes it to man.

4. It allows man a liberty of boasting to God, saying, “God, I thank Thee that Thou gavest me power to will (yet Thou gavest that to Judas as well as me), but I thank myself for the act of willingness, since I receive from Thee no more than Judas did.”

5. It exempts the creature from the power of God, as if man, spider-like, could spin a thread out of his own bowels whereon to climb to Heaven.

6. It maketh man the cause why God willeth this or that; so God must attend on the will of man, and not be infallible in His decrees, nor working all things according to the counsel of His own will (Eph 1:11, Ps 115:3).

7. Then the apostle James lied in saying “every good gift” is from God (Jas1:17); and Paul also was mistaken in Romans 9:11. He should have said, “It is of man that willeth and runneth,” and not, “Of God that showeth mercy!”

 

THE ‘NEW-BIRTH’ A MYSTERY!

THE ‘NEW-BIRTH’ A MYSTERY!

Letter to a dear brother in response to his article on ‘Decisional Regeneration’ . . . .

Dear brother Matthew, yours was such an uplifting and scriptural article that I read it more than once and have even shared it with my friends and they in turn have shared it with their friends. (2Tim 2:2) This is indeed a MESSAGE FOR THE TIMES which those who claim to be Christians need to hear. I like the point that you brought out about the similarities between ‘baptismal regeneration’ and ‘decisional regeneration’. It’s the same error with a different coat of paint, is it not?!

When I was a newly regenerated believer who was fairly new to the Faith I had a great zeal for the Lord (I still do) and had a great desire to ‘win’ as many as I could to the Lord. After all does not Scripture teach that “He that winneth souls is wise?” The whole verse reads – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Prov 11:30) It was many years later before the Lord taught me that both the ‘righteous’ and the ‘wise’ in that scripture is none other than the Lord of glory! It is HE who wins the rebellious and God hating soul by His sovereign grace. You and I can no more ‘win a soul’ than we can raise the dead!

But to return, those days I was deluded into thinking that all it took was a ‘decision’ that someone could make to invite Jesus into their heart because THAT is what I was taught. And I had a great burden to win my then Roman Catholic girlfriend of six years to the Lord. And so I would pray for her as though everything depended on prayer and preach to her at every given opportunity to get her to ‘make that decision’ for the Lord.

Little did I know that she was a lover of the writings of one Krishnamurti who is a New-Ager and she had been reading his books. So one day when I was compelling her to make this decision for the Lord and explaining to her how it was all about her choice etc, she abruptly stopped me and said “Honey, what choice are you talking about? We do not even have a choice when it comes to our birth. IF I had had a choice in the matter I would’ve chosen a different set of parents and a different country to be born in. So what ‘choice’ are you talking about? We really do not have a choice!”

Back then as an Arminian, even though I was stumped I tried to reason with her saying that “yes, while we do not have a choice as far as our birth is concerned, we still do have a choice as far as being ‘born again’ is concerned,” etc. But now looking back as someone who is established in the doctrines of Sovereign Grace especially the truth of The Total Depravity of man; I can clearly see how right she was even as an unbeliever and how wrong I was though I knew the Lord!

Concerning our choice with regards to our first birth, Loraine Boettner writes – “It is almost universally admitted that God determines when, where, and under what circumstances, each individual of our race shall be born, live, and die, whether it shall be male or female, white or black, wise or foolish. God is no less sovereign in the distribution of His favors. He does what He will with His own. To some He gives riches, to others honor, to others health, to others certain talents for music, oratory, art, finance, statesmanship, etc. Others are poor, unknown, born in dishonor, the victims of disease, and live lives of wretchedness. Some are placed in Christian lands where they receive all the benefits of the Gospel; others live and die in the darkness of heathenism. Some are brought through faith unto salvation; others are left to perish in unbelief. And to a very large extent these external things, which are not the result of individual choice, decide the person’s life course and eternal destiny. Both Scripture and every day experience teach us that God gives to some what He withholds from others. If it be asked why He does this, or why he does not save all, the only available answer is found in the words of the Lord Jesus, “Yea, Father, for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight.” – [Boettner in ‘The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination’] 

I am glad that you mentioned in your article “However, it was Billy Graham, with his prominent emphasis on “decision”, who brought this semi-Pelagian, unwarranted, but highly congenial exaltation of man’s will to world-wide acceptance. This delusion quickly overtook the “Fundamentalists”, Independent and Southern Baptists, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, Charismatics and virtually all who professed salvation in Christ.”

This same ‘Rev’. Billy Graham once wrote a 170 pages book titled – ‘How to be born-again”. He might as well have written a book on how to be born. For in many ways the natural birth is very similar to spiritual birth!

And just as we had no say in the former, neither do we have any say in the latter! And as far as ‘choice’ goes, every man who comes into the world by natural GENERATION ALREADY MADE THAT CHOICE IN ADAM as far his eternal destiny is concerned! “In Adam all die!” (1Cor 15:22) To humbly accept this truth and preach it from the rooftops is to sign your ‘death warrant’ as far as any ‘success’ in the Ministry goes! This truth can only be received by truly regenerated men, the rest of the bench-warmers will trample it under their feet, and turn again and rend you if they could!

In natural birth, we know that the one who is BORN DOES NOT WILL TO BE BORN–in fact, he (as as my old girlfriend reminded me) has NO SAY IN THE MATTER WHATSOEVER! He does not decide the time, place, or circumstances of his birth. He has no power to determine the family into which he will be born etc. The analogy holds true with regard to the spiritual birth. GOD determines the time, place and circumstances. The sinner can no more resist this than can an infant resist and refuse to be born naturally.

This fact is shown so clearly in John 1:13 where speaking of believers it is said, “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” i.e. “The new birth is “not of blood (by natural descent), nor of the will of the flesh (his own volition), nor of the will of man (the preacher’s persuasion), but OF GOD” [John 1:13] [A.W. Pink]

This verse kills the doctrine of those who teach that men are saved when they exercise their “free wills” and accept God’s “offer” of salvation.

God Sovereignly saves us in Regeneration and THEN CALLS US OR ILLUMINATES US BY THE GOSPEL. “Who hath SAVED US (regeneration), and CALLED US (by the Gospel) with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace etc”. [2Tim 1:9] As I always say we must beware of putting the proverbial ‘cart before the horse’! A man does not believe the Gospel and GET SAVED but believes the Gospel BECAUSE HE IS SAVED!

This is the reason the Gospel is referred to in the Scriptures as a MYSTERY! Because only to the regenerate it is the ‘power of God unto salvation’. The rest can only behold it, wonder about it and perish! “BEHOLD, ye despisers, and WONDER, and PERISH: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in NO WISE BELIEVE, though A MAN DECLARE IT UNTO YOU”. [Act 13:41]

Regeneration is a ONETIME sovereign act of God whereas Conversion is always PARTIAL (on this earth) and CONTINUAL, and can be seen in different parts of our lives at different times. A genuine backslider does not need to be regenerated but he needs to be converted. A backslider no matter how far he has strayed is still God’s son and the Lambs bride! “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I AM MARRIED UNTO YOU”! [Jer 3:14] (my eyes well-up as I write this, for I was the greatest backslider of them all) Prior to Peter’s backsliding, the Lord told him – “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and WHEN THOU ART CONVERTED, strengthen thy brethren”! [Lk 22:31,32]

And I may finally add that it is in conversion that we unlearn much of the error which we held on to initially after our regeneration. Errors such as ‘Free will’, Universal Atonement, The Pentecostal errors etc.

The path of the just is as the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect Day! [Prov 4:18] Hallelujah!

Great article again from you my dear Brother Matthew! Keep them coming!

Your servant for His sake
Michael Jeshurun