Monday, October 20, 2008


Here is a great article, and indirectly, a brief review of the new ESV Study Bible (ESVSB) from our good friends at What I appreciate about this piece, is that it focuses in on an important theological truth in salvation, that regeneration precedes faith.

Now, did the ESVSB get it right on this important doctrinal issue? Read the following to find out and let me know your thoughts...

Titus 3:4-7


For visitors to who are considering the purchase of the ESV Study Bible, the following may be of particular interest to you. Ever since the ESV Study Bibles have come out I have been reading through some of the notes on various texts and skimming the theological articles so I could report back to you what I found. As you might have guessed, one of the first things looked for was whether the ESV Study Bible would take a clear Christ-honoring stand on the vital doctrinal issue of regeneration. Expecting to find an amorphous commentary that neither monergist nor synergist would be offended by, I am very pleased to report to you that the notes from editors of the ESVSB unambiguously affirm divine monergism in regeneration. Because we believe this is a vital biblical doctrine to understand correctly, we wholeheartedly applaud those editors who decided not to be vague on this issue. We are also thankful for the effort and time it must have taken to put the incredible resources available in this Bible together in one place. May the Lord be pleased to use it to His glory

Here are a few samples of ESVSB comments on the doctrine of regeneration:

On page 2531 of the ESVSB in the article entitled "Biblical Doctrine: An Overview" under the subheading of "salvation" it reads as follows:
From God's vantage point salvation begins with his election of individuals, which is his determination beforehand that his saving purpose will be accomplished in them (John 6:37–39, 44, 64–66; 8:47; 10:26; 15:16; Acts 13:48; 16:14; Romans 9; 1 John 4:19; 5:1). God then in due course brings people to himself by calling them to faith in Christ (Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 1:9; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 2:9).
God's calling produces regeneration, which is the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit in which a spiritually dead person is made alive in Christ (Ezek. 11:19–20; Matt. 19:28; John 3:3, 5, 7; Titus 3:5). The revived heart repents and trusts Christ in saving faith as the only source of justification.
Notice that the editors clearly affirm that a regenerated, revived heart precedes repentance and trust in Christ. It goes on to describe saving faith as follows:
To be a Christian means one has traded in his “polluted garment” of self-righteousness for the perfect righteousness of Christ (Phil. 3:8–9; cf. Isa. 64:6). He has ceased striving and now rests in the finished work of Christ—no longer depending on personal accomplishments, religious pedigree, or good works for God's approval, but only on what Christ has accomplished on his behalf (Phil. 2:8–9). A Christian understands with Paul that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). As regards Jesus paying the penalty for our sins, the Christian believes that when Jesus said, “it is finished” (John 19:30), it really was. Because of this, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1), and they have been “saved to the uttermost” (Heb. 7:25). A miraculous transformation has taken place in which the believer has “passed from death to life” (John 5:24). The Holy Spirit empowers the transformation from rebellious sinner to humble worshiper, leading to “confidence for the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17).
Now moving away from the theological essays, we would like to point to some related commentary the ESVSB makes on a few important texts of Scripture which speak of regeneration:

ESVSB commentary on Eph 2:5
"even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—" (Eph 2:5)

Eph. 2:5 when we were dead. Paul resumes his original thought, which began with “you were dead” in v. 1. made us alive. That is, God gave us regeneration (new spiritual life within). This and the two verbs in v. 6 (“raised up” and “seated with”) make up the main verbs of the long sentence in vv. 1–10. Since Christians were dead, they first had to be made alive before they could believe (and God did that together with Christ). This is why salvation is by grace alone (see notes on v. 8; vv. 9–10).

ESVSB commentary on 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 5:1)

1 John 5:1 Everyone who believes that. The word “that” underscores that saving faith has a particular content. It is not a vague religious commitment but a wholehearted trust in the saving work of Christ. Everyone who believes has been born of God. Regeneration precedes faith (cf. 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; note on Eph. 2:5).

ESVSB commentary on John 6:63
"It is the Spirit who gives life; a the flesh is no help at all."

John 6:63 The flesh (i.e., human nature including emotions, will, and intellect) is completely incapable of producing genuine spiritual life (see Rom. 7:14–25), for this can only be done by the Spirit. But the Holy Spirit works powerfully in and through the words that Jesus speaks, and those words are spirit and life in the sense that they work in the unseen spiritual realm and awaken genuine spiritual life.

to read more click here...


Stephen Garrett said...

Brother Steve:

I will ask you the questions I have asked of James White. He never answered. I hope you will.

1. Do you believe sinners are begotten by the gospel?

2. If so, does not "begotten by the gospel" not mean "begotten by faith in the gospel"?

Since you are friends with James, and knowing I have challenged him to debate this issue, why don't you get him to accept the challenge?

Regeneration is not put before faith in scripture.

As far as the passage in I John 5: 1, that is the worst heremeneutics I have seen. I wrote on this recently in Hardshell Proof Texts at

I also intend to elaborate on I John 5: 1 in light of what bro. White has written, over the next few days.

The passage does not say that men are born again before the initial act of believing, because the simple initial act of believing is not under consideration, as White admits. John puts faith in the present tense for the ongoing life of faith. THUS, he is saying that begetting precedes the life of faith, but that is a lot different from saying that the begetting precedes the initial act of believing or receiving Christ.

In John 5: 40, does "life" come after coming to Christ or before?

You misread Eph. 2 on what it means to come to life. How can you deny that Paul is explaining to them their conversion? Why would he be explaining to them some mystic subconscious experience that may have happened years before coming to faith?

You promote monergism's web site; do you accept their dividing of regeneration from the new birth, making the birth to have three distinct stages?

Looking to hear from you, I am,

Yours for the cause of Christ,


Holly Steadman said...

Brothers of our glorious LORD and SAVIOR = JESUS CHRIST = Who IS THE FAITHFUL WITNESS,
Paul said: "As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than GOD'S work--which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk..."- 1 Timothy 1
1. teach false doctrines
2. devote to myths (Star Wars and Narnia might fit), endless genealogies
3. promote controversy rather than GOD'S work
4. wander away and turn toward meaningless talk
1. command (when, where necessary)
2. promote GOD'S work
4. a pure heart
5. a good conscience
6. sincere faith

PRAISE GOD that HE understands all the ins and outs of regeneration. The absolute SOURCE has it all under control and is in control. Of that we can be sure. And He DOES THAT, whether we are sure OF THAT FACT or not!
Paul commended the church in Thessalonica--- for faith that was growing "more and more" and because they had love for each other that was "increasing."
To the Galatians he said: "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the One who called you by the grace of CHRIST..." He warned against perversion of the Gospel of CHRIST.

Theology is the study of GOD.
The Scriptures are THE SOURCE of good doctrine.
and yea, more than this, we trust in THE HOLY SPIRIT who breathed out that WORD OF GOD.
JESUS went to "go and prepare a place for us" because while He walked this earth He was not present and available to each one. In the presence and activity of HOLY SPIRIT...
HE IS not lacking and can make up for any and every (in the translating) transitional error.
The GOSPEL is according to CHRIST, and not according to man.
Sometimes, I think we need to let GOD be GOD in our studies of Him... and trust that HE knew and knows and will continue to know how to do everything in order to meet our salvation.

And yes, it is important to have "the right Bible," particularly in regards to Jehovah Witnesses, Muslims,...
GOD mends the differences.
A paraphrase and heretical version such as The Message is "no gospel at all," however, and certainly at that point it becomes necessary to "FIGHT TO THE DEATH."
From a bone (get it, Steve?) afide sister, who is (not just)
"My Man's Rib"

SJ Camp said...

Thanks for your comment.

Two things initially for you:

1. Where does the phrase "begotten by the gospel" appear in Scripture?

2. The regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit is clearly taught in Scripture (John 3:1-8; 1 Cor. 12:3; Titus 3:4-7).

3. You seem to be struggling here not with being born of the Spirit (regeneration) but with the depravity of man. I believe when you settle that issue, this other will be clear to you.

Grace and peace,

x said...

Excellent! I'd heard that the ESVSB didn't take sides on a lot of issues. I'm glad it does here.

Steve - what's it say about 2 Cor 5:21? I want to make sure positive imputation's being taught here.

Also, regeneration is clearly put before faith in John 3 and 1 Peter 1.

Stephen Garrett said...

Begotten by the gospel is in I Cor. 4: 15. You may also see James 1: 18 and I Peter 1: 23.

Yes, the Spirit regenerates and when he regenerates he does it through the medium of truth and faith. (Eph. 2: 8)

I believe in total depravity. I don't believe a man can create his own faith nor draw himself to God. I believe that when one is draw, he comes to Christ (believes) and is instantaneously born again. God creates the faith IN regeneration.

Paul explains that coming to life, in Eph. 1: 19-2:10 is coming to faith and repentance.

God bless


Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

Here is what Hendryx, of, wrote on the "new birth."

Again, do you agree or not?

If not, why do you promote his view?

Hendryx wrote:

I. Regeneration is described as a spiritual new birth.

1. This is affirmed in the following New Testament passages: John 1:12-13; 3:3-8; I Corinthians 4:15; Philemon 10; James 1:18; I Peter 1:3,23; I John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1,4,18.

2. The embryonic stage of regeneration is what is called "quickening", and it is the work of the Holy Spirit alone.

3. The final stage of regeneration is delivery or birth, and it is the work of the Holy Spirit in dependence upon the Word as a means. Consequently, the spiritual knowledge conferred by illumination is the spiritual content or revelation (holy Scripture).

4. J I Packer says, "Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are 'dead in trespasses and sins' prompt the quickening operation of God's Spirit within them."

Do you agree or not?



Holly Steadman said...

I believe...
who said:
"Strain at a gnat, but swallow a camel."
Enjoy your feast, men.
But as for me (and my temple), rather than enjoy the maneuvers of a manifold mind, I choose the mind of CHRIST---

SJ Camp said...

J I Packer says, "Infants do not induce, or cooperate in, their own procreation and birth; no more can those who are 'dead in trespasses and sins' prompt the quickening operation of God's Spirit within them."

I agree. Great quote - thank you for sharing it with us.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

I guess you pick and choose what questions and parts of citations you want to respond to and which to ignore. I don't see how one can have a meaningful dialogue in such a manner as this.



SJ Camp said...

my man's rib
Good to have you posting here. It was nice to meet you and your husband at Cornerstone Church yesterday.

Since you are new here I wanted to make you aware of a couple of the rules to blogging here:

1. No drive-by's. You can say what you will, but you must be able to back it up and make your case.

2. Stay on topic. I post many articles throughout a week of several different themes. If you have something biblically or theologically to contribute on any article along the theme of that post, please do so. But the two comments you have done here really don't relate to what was written.

This article is on regeneration preceding faith. It is an important issue and one's view biblically of it dramatically affects how one would also treat evangelism.

The bottom line issue is the glory of God in salvation.

Thanks kindly for honoring these requests and I look forward to reading more of your comments here in the future.

Grace and peace,
2 Cor. 4:5-7

SJ Camp said...

I also appreciate this definition that JH gave: "Regeneration is described as a spiritual new birth."

I wholly agree. Excellent. Thank you again for these thoughts here. Well done.


Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

Do you agree with Hendryx that there are at least two "stages" to the "new birth"? Do you agree with him when he says "quickening" is "regeneration" but not the birth? And, when he says that the first "stage," or "quickening," is done without the means of gospel truth, but the final "birth," the second "stage," is through means?

Again, blessings


SJ Camp said...

Steve - what's it say about 2 Cor 5:21? I want to make sure positive imputation's being taught here.

Here is the full commentary provided in the notes of that verse:

This verse is one of the most important in all of Scripture for understanding the meaning of the atonement and justification. Here we see that the one who knew no sin is Jesus Christ (v. 20) and that he (God) made him (Christ) to be sin (Gk. hamartia, “sin”). This means that God the Father made Christ to be regarded and treated as “sin” even though Christ himself never sinned (Heb. 4:15; cf. Gal. 3:13).

Further, we see that God did this for our sake—that is, God regarded and treated “our” sin (the sin of all who would believe in Christ) as if our sin belonged not to us but to Christ himself. Thus Christ “died for all” (2 Cor. 5:14) and, as Peter wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Pet. 2:24). In becoming sin “for our sake,” Christ became our substitute—that is, Christ took our sin upon himself and, as our substitute, thereby bore the wrath of God (the punishment that we deserve) in our place (“for our sake”). Thus the technical term for this foundational doctrine of the Christian faith is the substitutionary atonement—that Christ has provided the atoning sacrifice as “our” substitute, for the sins of all who believe (cf. Rom. 3:23–25).

The background for this is Isaiah 53 from the Greek (Septuagint) translation of the Hebrew OT, which includes the most lengthy and detailed OT prophecy of Christ's death and which contains numerous parallels to 2 Cor. 5:21. Isaiah's prophecy specifically uses the Greek word for “sin” (Gk. hamartia) five times (as indicated below in italics) with reference to the coming Savior (the Suffering Servant) in just a few verses—e.g., “surely he has born our griefs” (Isa. 53:4); “He was crushed for our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5); “the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6); “he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 53:11); “he bore the sin of many” (Isa. 53:12).

In a precise fulfillment of this prophecy, Christ became “sin” for those who believe in him, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. This means that just as God imputed our sin and guilt to Christ (“he made him to be sin”) so God also imputes the righteousness of Christ—a righteousness that is not our own—to all who believe in Christ. Because Christ bore the sins of those who believe, God regards and treats believers as having the legal status of “righteousness” (Gk. dikaiosynē). This righteousness belongs to believers because they are “in him,” that is, “in Christ” (e.g., Rom. 3:22; 5:18; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:17, 19; Phil. 3:9).

Therefore “the righteousness of God” (which is imputed to believers) is also the righteousness of Christ—that is, the righteousness and the legal status that belongs to Christ as a result of Christ having lived as one who “knew no sin.”

This then is the heart of the doctrine of justification: God regards (or counts) believers as forgiven and God declares and treats them as forgiven, because God the Father has imputed the believer's sin to Christ and because God the Father likewise imputes Christ's righteousness to the believer. (See further notes on Rom. 4:6–8; 5:18; 10:3; 10:6–8; see also Isa. 53:11: “the righteous one, my servant, [shall] make many to be accounted righteous”).

What say ye?

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...


You are absolutely correct about John 3 and what Jesus teaches there about the new birth.

Jesus was very clear that, unless one is first born from above, he cannot even see the kingdom. Now, how can one place faith in something one cannot even see? The new birth (regeneration) MUST come before the faith.

It is simple logistics.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

PS. The Greek for 'see' in John 3:3 means more than to actually see with the of its primary meanings is ' to perceive'.

SJ Camp said...

Well said...

Thank you brother.

SJ Camp said...

The verses you supplied do not mention being "begotten by the gospel."

Any other sources? :-).


Carla Rolfe said...

my man's rib,

Please do correct me if I am in error here, but it appears that you're saying discussion on the doctrine of regeneration is equal to promoting controversy and straining at gnats.

If this is what you're saying, I must disagree in the strongest possible way. Gaining a richer understanding of the work of God in the salvation of man (through discussions just like this in the combox) only serves to bring Him much glory and much deserved honor, and a deeper gratitude for such astounding grace.

It is a beautiful thing to dig deep into God's word and to let it conform our hearts and minds, shatter our traditions and blow away all pre-conceived ideas on the Who, the how, and the why of saving grace.

One of the greatest blessings of my life ever, was the challenge I once received (many many years ago, in a format very much like this one here at COT) to prove free will from the Scripture. After much private study and diligent prayer it was abundantly clear to me that it was in fact impossible to meet this challenge if I was going to allow the text of Scripture to speak for itself, in context. The online discussions that followed that intense study time only served as iron sharpening iron, and pointed me in a more solid direction to understanding God's sovereignty, and being deeply humbled by it.

Just because there will be disagreements on this subject does not mean it's not a very worthwhile subject to study and to discuss.

Holly Steadman said...

Steve, brother,
I thank you for the kindness with which you have addressed my "disobedience to the rules of men"... SMILE PLEASE, I mean blogging.
You stated in your comment back to me: "If you have something biblically or theologically to contribute on any article along the theme of that post, please do so. But the two comments you have done here really don't relate to what was written."

As spoken yesterday in person, I am completely new to this.
And though I thought I was indeed addressing the issues at hand (and I still think so), I understand that is not your estimation.

MORE than the commentaries and all the books written, we need two things:
1. Sola Scripture
And these are the only tools with which I desire to both breathe and speak (in any dialogue form, written or speech).

I apologize if that is not enough or suitable here.

You asked me yesterday if I was "well read." I said "Yes." But let me clarify: Yes. I hold to THE WORD OF GOD.
Nothing more.
Nothing less.

In closing,
PRAISE GOD that I shall in CHRIST forever be "un-boxed" and not subject to "the rules of men," though gladly will honor you on your blog.
Please, another smile, please.

Peace to the brotherhood, and love with faith from
"GOD THE FATHER, and THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in CHRIST...
"He chose us in Him before the creation of the world..."

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

"...for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel." (I Cor. 4: 15 KJV) The only difference is in the use of the word "by" (by me) instead of "through," but do you not think they mean the same thing?

"...for in Christ Jesus, through the good news, I -- I did beget you." (Young's Literal Translation)

"...for in Christ Jesus I have engendered you by the gospel." (Wycliffe New Testament)

Also, James 1: 18 says we are "begotten with (by means of) the word of truth."

I Peter 1: 23 "born the word of God."

It seems Steve that you agree with the Hardshells that the gospel is not a means in regeneration and new birth.



Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Brian:

The verses you cite from John 3 and the argument you make on "seeing" is not valid. Here is what I recently wrote on this.

"Besides John 1: 12, 13, and I John 5: 1, John 3: 3,5 is also used by the Hardshells and other Hyperists in order to attempt to prove that one is born again prior to faith and repentance.

"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." (John 3: 3 KJV)

"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." (vs. 5)

The argument of the Hardshells, and others who promote the view that puts the new birth prior to faith, from the above words of Christ, affirms that these words teach that the new birth must occur before one believes, or repents, or savingly hears, or receives Christ, or experiences conversion.

But, this verse does not teach such an unscriptural notion.

First, the context shows how Christ interpreted the birth of the Spirit to be synonymous with coming to trust in Christ and in his atoning death.

Secondly, the "seeing" and "entering" the kingdom is not to be equated with believing or receiving Christ, nor with repenting, but with coming to experience the life of a child of God, in his Christian life now, but superlatively so in the world to come.

"See" does not mean to "believe," but to "experience," probably, to fully experience. Certainly no one can experience the spiritual life, either here and now, or in the world to come, unless he is first born of the Spirit through the word. Besides, is there no "seeing" or "entering" experienced IN the very act of being born?

Let us substitute some other words for "see" and "enter" and discover if it be scriptural or not.

"Except a man be born again he cannot experience God in salvation."

"Except a man be born again he cannot go to heaven."

"Except a man be born again he cannot be spiritually alive."

"Except a man be born again he cannot have Ezekiel's new heart."

"Except a man be born again he cannot please God."

"Except a man be born again he cannot have fellowship with God."

"Except a man be born again he cannot be translated into the kingdom."

"Except a man be born again he cannot be transformed."

Now, for the term "born again," in all the above examples, substitute the words "have faith" and see if it as scriptural.

Certainly "seeing" and "entering" the kingdom is Jewish. From the Old Testament, the believing Jew looked forward to the coming of an eternal kingdom where he would enjoy, in a glorified human body and spirit, the fullness of "life." It is therefore chiefly "eschatological." Peter referred to this eschatological "seeing" (experiencing) and "entering" the "eternal kingdom" of Christ, when he wrote:

"For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (II Peter 1: 11 KJV)

The context clearly shows that Peter is addressing those who have been born again and who, in some limited way, have experienced the kingdom of the Messiah. Yet, this present enjoyment of the kingdom is limited, being only a foretaste or earnest deposit, while the fullest enjoyment will not be till after the return of Christ and the establishment of his kingdom.

D.A. Carson wrote (emphasis mine):

“To a Jew with the background and convictions of Nicodemus, “to see the kingdom of God” was to participate in the kingdom at the end of the age, to experience eternal, resurrection life. The same equivalence is found in the Synoptics (cf. Mk. 9:43, 45 ‘to enter life’, parallel to 9:47 ‘to enter the kingdom of God/); it is particularly strong in the Fourth Gospel, where ‘kingdom’ language crops up only here (3:3, 5) and at Jesus’ trial (18:36) while ‘life’ language predominates. One of the most startling features of the kingdom announced in the Synoptics is that it is not exclusively future. The kingdom, God’s saving and transforming reign, has in certain respects already been inaugurated in the person works and message of Jesus.” (D.A. Carson, The Gospel According To John, P. 188)

So, it is a very weak argument, or none at all, to say that the words of Christ teach that one must be born again in order that he may later believe, repent, or be converted. Such a view, as I have said, eliminates faith, repentance, and a change of heart and mind from the very experience of the new birth.

Why can't the Hyperist see that part of the "deadness" of the alien depraved sinner is his "unbelief" and his "impenitence"? If they saw correctly that "spiritual death" involves unbelief and impenitence of heart, then they could see how coming to spiritual "life" involves coming out of dead faith, and dead thinking, and dead repentance, and dead works.

These same folks will affirm that the "new heart" must be first given before that heart can exercise faith and repentance. But, such a view divorces faith and repentance from being essential elements of the "new heart." If the "new heart" and "new life" do not include faith and repentance, then the "heart" is still unbelieving and impenitent, and so, how could it be said to be a "new" heart?

Jesus shows that he has primary allusion to an "eschatological" realization of "seeing" and "entering" the kingdom (to that which will not be experienced till the kingdom of Christ is established upon earth), when he says "whoever believes on him will have eternal life." (vs. 15, 16)

Surely this latter statement of Christ is eschatological, for the most part, is it not? Do those who argue erroneously on the words "seeing" and "entering," as the Hardshells and "Reformed" crowd, also see these words ('believe to eternal life') as not referring to "regeneration"? If they did, would they not have faith before regeneration?

So, the context shows that the "seeing" and "entering" into "eternal life," and into the "kingdom of God," are what is to be realized at the return of Christ. But, even if we allow it to refer to what takes place at the moment one is born again, or comes to faith, it still does not uphold the view that says the birth is completed without the creation of faith.

Besides, if the new life that is created by the new birth does not include faith, then how was the word a means in the birth? And, in our earlier chapters in this book, we looked at those passages that teach regeneration by the means of the word of God and faith in it, and overthrew the Hardshell objections to them. But, if faith is after the new birth, then the word of God cannot be a means in the giving of the life itself.

In the next chapter I will be continue looking at verses in the gospel of John that supposedly teach that one is born again before and apart from faith, as the Hardshells teach."

Chpt. 81 - "Hardshell Proof Texts III"



Holly Steadman said...

Carla, I noticed your comment to me right after my last...
"Gaining a richer understanding of the work of God in the salvation of man (through discussions just like this in the combox) only serves to bring Him much glory and much deserved honor, and a deeper gratitude for such astounding grace.
"It is a beautiful thing to dig deep into God's word and to let it conform our hearts and minds, shatter our traditions and blow away all pre-conceived ideas on the Who, the how, and the why of saving grace.
"One of the greatest blessings of my life ever, was the challenge I once received... to prove free will from the Scripture. After much private study and diligent prayer..."
You said it MUCH better than I did. The "straining at gnats and swallowing a camel" referred to using commentaries and the thoughts of others about the doctines RATHER THAN letting the doctrines (SCRIPTURE) speak.
Or at the very least... speak first.
Thank you.

There is always a problem when we are better read of philosophies and commentaries than we are of the WORD OF GOD.
YES! THE WORD OF GOD SPEAKS. And let us eat, eat, eat of THIS BREAD that is every morsel TRUE, NOBLE, RIGHT, PURE, LOVELY, ADMIRABLE, and PRAISE WORTHY.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

So, it is a very weak argument, or none at all, to say that the words of Christ teach that one must be born again in order that he may later believe, repent, or be converted. Such a view, as I have said, eliminates faith, repentance, and a change of heart and mind from the very experience of the new birth.

Nice straw man, stephen.

No one here is saying that all the things you mentioned are eliminated from the experience of the new birth.

Since you seem pretty firm on not letting John 3 speak for itself, and instead want to interchange words to attempt to support your position, let's look at another text and see if we can leave it just as it is and get your take on it.

It's a very familiar one, Romans 8:29-30, also known as the golden chain of salvation. Can we agree that these verses clearly show an order of actions by God? If so, then we can move forward. If not, then we have nothing left on which to base our discussion.

I'll assume that you agree that there is indeed an order of actions contained in those verses: foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, glorification.

NOW, I hope we can agree that we are justified by grace, THROUGH faith. And I hope we can also agree that the calling in this text is NOT the outward call of the gospel, because everyone who receives this calling is justified and glorified, and we know that not everyone who hears the outward gospel call is saved.

SO, the calling there must be something else, and I contend it is what can be classified as a special, inward call. I put forth that that call is the inward regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, followed by, according to the text, justification, which is by faith.

Now, I am sure you probably disagree with that view, so I would be interested to hear from you what that calling is in Romans 8:30 if it is not the inward call of the Holy Spirit. Remember, there is no way it can be the outward call of the gospel, because all who are called in verse 30 are also justified and glorified.


SJ Camp said...

Thank you and well said.

my man's rib
I agree that the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures are very important (to say the least) on understanding any issue biblically. The highest authorities!

But that shouldn't discredit commentaries or other sources to give you insight on these things also. I think it would be helpful you tremendously to read several commentaries and theological works by trusted men of God on these things as well. After all, even Scripture has equipped men of God to "give the sense of it" (Neh. 8:8) and to "rightly divide the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15) and to those "who rule well be considered worthy of a double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching." (1 tim. 5:17).

That is a special gifting by the Holy Spirit to help men of God understand its truths and preach them faithfully in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:1-5). That would serve you well here.

I say this gently, but it is obvious that you are not equipped to discuss regeneration biblically or to discuss its importance in regards to faith. If you were, you would have shared some Scripture verses that pertain to this discussion and unfolded their meaning. But you did not. Again, that is not a put down, just an observation.

Lastly, when your pastor, Pastor Bob, preaches on Sunday morning - he is a living testament to being a man of God qualified and equipped to preach the Word to you. You learn from him and he is honoring his heavenly charge in feeding the flock under his care. If you were to take his sermons and transcribe them into a book, it would then be considered a commentary.

May I suggest that you meet with him on this issue and ask him what books he would recommend for you to read that would help give you sound insights into God's Word by again, trusted faithful men of God throughout redemptive history.

Two systematic theologies that I would recommend would be: Dogmatic Theology by William G.T. Shedd; and Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. Both will provide you some helpful and encouraging Bible study tools. And both come from different perspectives as well.

Thank you again for your participation here...

Grace and peace,

Carla Rolfe said...

my man's rib,

I agree completely that knowing the written word and relying on the Holy Spirit's leading in understanding is critical for any believer.

With that said, I also agree with what Steve has already said in that there are currently and have been great men of faith that God has raised up for the very purpose that they have fulfilled - writing and expounding and teaching His word to others. The danger is when we (believers) neglect such rich resources as if to say we can learn nothing from them, or presume an attitude of "just me and my bible". I'm not saying you have done this, but I have seen it many many times.

There is much to learn from others who have walked in faith and been equipped to teach. While I do believe we should go to the Scriptures first, I also believe that there is much wisdom to be gained from like-minded believers as well.

Stephen Garrett said...


The "calling" of Rom. 8 does not exclude the word preached, does it? Certainly it is an effectual call! It is a call of the Spirit and the word. "The Spirit and the bride say come."



Stephen Garrett said...


John wrote: "But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31)

What "life" is this that comes after faith? Is it the same life as in John 3 ("see life")?



Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...


Yes! It is definitely an effectual call, brought about by the Spirit through the gospel. In other words, the inward, effectual call of the Spirit is brought about through the means of the outward call of the gospel (How will they believe in Him in whom they have never heard). I am so glad to see you affirm that truth.

Now that we agree that the calling in Romans 8:30 is an inward effectual call, wrought by the Spirit, we can now look at the very next action by God in that verse...

"those He called He justified"

So, we see a clear order here of calling (not outward call, but inward effectual call) before justification...of the inward work of the Holy Spirit before faith. The order is unmistakable, and I hope you can now see it.

The next question to answer would be, what is this effectual call the Holy Spirit performs on the person who is must be regeneration! Therefore, regeneration (effectual call) clearly comes before the faith (justification).

If the inward, effectual call of Romans 8:30 is not regeneration, then what is it?

SJ Camp said...

The Holy Spirit uses the preaching of the Word of Christ (Roms. 10) in the salvation of the elect - no question. That is not the issue here.

The Father has chosen us in Christ before the foundation of the world; these promises were granted to us in Christ Jesus by grace in times past eternal; Jesus redeemed His own on the cross - not just provided a way to believe unto eternal life; and the Spirit of God renews and regenerates us. No many may confess Christ as Lord without the Spirit of God being in him (1 Cor. 12:3).

From God's perspective, regeneration always precedes faith - as does election, predestination and foreknowledge (Roms. 8:29-31). From our perspective we call all men to repentance, we call them to follow Christ as Lord of their lives, to believe solely in Him, etc.

This is good news!

There is a mystery here.

Stephen Garrett said...

Dear Steve:

Good morning!

My question for you this morning is this - "how is your view on regeneration and means different from the Hardshells?"

Yes, I know you affirm the instrumentality of the word and faith for "salvation," but so does the Hardshell. He, however, like you, will not make this "salvation" to be regeneration. You, like him, will make this "salvation" a salvation that follows regeneration. But, such a view has a man regenerated who is not yet saved!

Does your regenerated infant have to believe to be "saved"? Or, is his being "regenerated" enough?

Do all the elect have to be "saved" as well as "regenerated"?

Steve, I don't see how you can accuse me of building "straw men," taking a look at your responses, particularly the last. How do I deny that it is the Spirit who regenerates when I affirm that the Spirit does it through the gospel?


The "calling" that precedes the justification is not equated with regeneration. Your reading would be thus - "whom he regenerated, them he justified."

The meaning is rather this - "whom he called (to life, faith, repentance, and salvation, effectually through his word and Spirit), them he regenerated, saved, justified, sanctified, etc."

No problem here!

It is absurd to say that regeneration precedes faith but justification and sanctification follow it.



Douglas Kofi Adu-Boahen said...

I am re-assured that the ESV Study Bible (which I have heard to be a little broader in its theological outlook) takes a Biblical stand on such a vital doctrine.

Mine hasn't arrived yet, but I'll be very glad when it does

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

The meaning is rather this - "whom he called (to life, faith, repentance, and salvation, effectually through his word and Spirit)

Well, you have the order right in this statement! :-)

What else is a call to life by the Spirit but being born from above (regeneration)?

Also, I never said justification follows faith...we are justified BY faith. Now, sanctification DOES follow faith, though.

Holly Steadman said...

"Blessed in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in CHRIST..."
"For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight..."
(Key word = Chosen. When? Before creation. For what? Holiness.)
"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will..."
(Chosen. Predestined)
"But because of His great love for us, GOD, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with CHRIST even when we were dead in trangression..."
(Alive with CHRIST even though dead in transgression- Key Verse for your topic, and a thought provocation. Alive and dead at the same time. The life is in the eternal aspect where CHRIST IS and that is permanent; the dead is in the transitional aspect where we live and that is temporary.)

BUT STEVE, you have missed the mark which I so desired to expose. Why strain at all this? It reminds me of the statement that I so often hear in church circles: "We need to make JESUS CHRIST famous."
He's already famous. He's got that one taken care of.
HE IS THE FAMOUS ONE, regardless of our consent or discontent about it.
And certainly, THAT is off topic.
Or is it?
Consider this:
"The secret things belong to the LORD our GOD, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."- Deuteronomy 29:29

If you can tell me that all this mental gymnastics and war of words brings about a more devout service to JESUS CHRIST = KING OF KINGS...

So far, Carla has.
{{{{ REJOICE! }}}}

Let me say this loud and clear: If I do not fully comprehend all the ins and outs of regeneration BUT I do know the MAN OF REGENERATION, JESUS THE LORD...
I am saved. Redeemed by the BLOOD of THE LAMB. A bone-afide (smile) child of GOD, i am. A chosen son. Heir. Purposed in CHRIST and IN HIS NAME to be a suffering, comrade of the kingdom, patient endurer = overcomer to the very end (of my temporary aspect).

I do not need to go and talk to "a learned man" to secure my thoughts in regards to regeneration. JESUS CHRIST has already secured me and HE knew (backward), and knows (right now), and knows (forward) how to do this.
I do rejoice, however, in the wonderful teaching and preaching in the local Body of Believers. My church is an absolute blessing to me. I anticipate FROM GOD... when I listen to Pastor Bob.
(but at the same time, and always, determine to be a Berean)
In the power of HOLY SPIRIT he teaches and speaks for GREAT benefit "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the SON OF GOD and become mature, attaining to the whole of the measure of the fullness of CHRIST..."- Ephesians 4

I also rejoice in the HOLY SPIRIT when I sit beneath others, like you...
two days ago.

And finally, Steve, my brother,
"But we ought always to thank GOD for you, brother(s) loved by the LORD, because from the beginning GOD chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the SPIRIT and through belief in the Truth. He called you to this through our Gospel, that you might share in the glory of our LORD JESUS CHRIST."- 2 Thessalonians 2
I think that one hits all those issues.
1. "From the beginning"- that is past, behind us, "what was."
2. "GOD chose you to be saved"- It was His heart in the matter, not ours, and past tense, "chose."
3. "Through the sanctifying work of the SPIRIT"- the ongoing salvation from self and sin... that's the "present salvation," and "what is."
4. "And through belief in the Truth"- the moment of realization, from old to new, and ongoing.
5. "He called you to this through our Gospel"- GOD is the source. It begins with Him.
6. "That you might share in the glory of our LORD JESUS CHRIST"- that's future, what will be.

So... whatever will be, will be---
the past, the present, the future is WHOLENESS OF GOD to see---

I say of THE BLESSED TRINITY: "my LORD and my GOD."

SJ Camp said...

my man's rib
Under that logic, why discuss any doctrinal issues; wrestle with theological issues, etc.?

You said, BUT STEVE, you have missed the mark which I so desired to expose. Why strain at all this?

To the first part of your statement: a little humility would do you well here friend. You are new to this forum and to this medium of communicating. Thinking that you could come here and "expose" anything on this subject is arrogant.

Secondly, no one is straining here. This is an excellent study Bible that this author was glad to see that it affirms one of the great foundational doctrines of Scripture - regeneration and that it precedes faith. That statement was just stated - not strained nor debated.

None of the Scriptures you listed apply to this topic. So I must ask you again to post here specifically on the theme of this thread if you have something to contribute.

Enough rabbit trails...

Grace and peace,

Ian D. Elsasser said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
x said...

Steve - beautiful! Thanks for citing that section of the notes. I was worried because I'd heard that the notes for 2 Corinthians were done by Hafemann (who I believe at least DID deny positive imputation).

Sorry it took me a tad to respond - I had no idea the thread on this would get so long!

By the way (to all), John 3's important in large part because of the end. The one who is already good comes to the light - the one who isn't doesn't.


Ian D. Elsasser said...

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

You are absolutely correct about John 3 and what Jesus teaches there about the new birth.

Jesus was very clear that, unless one is first born from above, he cannot even see the kingdom. Now, how can one place faith in something one cannot even see? The new birth (regeneration) MUST come before the faith.

It is simple logistics.


"See life" in John 3.3 is equivalent to "enter the kingdom of God" in verse 5 and means to experience or participate in life. This sense of "see" is evident in 3.36 ("he who does not obey the Son shall not see life") and 8.51 ("Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death"). Jesus is saying that one must be born from above to experience or participate in the life of the eschatological kingdom. The verse does not teach that the new birth must precede faith.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...


Must not the new birth precede seeing the kingdom? At what point does a person first see the kingdom? At salvation! Praise God!

BTW..."see life" does not appear in John 3:3..."see the kingdom of God" does. The word "see" in verse 3 is in the aorist infinitive, which does not designate a future eschatological action, but a present ability of perception and knowledge and understanding of.

John gill says, "if this is not the case [no birth from above], a man can have no true knowledge of the kingdom of the Messiah, which is not a temporal and carnal one".

I think the "enter" in verse 5 is indeed referring to a future entry into the kingdom, but that the "see" in verse 3 refers to a present ability to see/perceive/know of the kingdom of God.

Holly Steadman said...

You are definitely right. I do not belong on this thread.
I am proud = sIn.
I am arrogant = sIn.
And have needed this humbling.

Sincerely, I ask you to forgive me for pride, arrogance and scorn. I was WRONG in heart attitude AND external approach concerning your method and mode.

Such a great way to begin in the blogsphere...

One rabbit trail: I love the breadth of your blog (not this particular one-smile?), but the wealth of godly, biblical insight in the areas of politics and religion.

I just need to read...
and not speak :)

Mitch said...


I wonder if you could clarify something for me.

You said the "see" in verse 3 is an aorist infinitive and that it means present ability & knowledge.

Ok so far, but then you said that enter at verse 5 speaks to a future, my question would be why here? It also is an aorist infinitive.

Grace & Peace

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...


That's what happens when I assume something, which is what I did with regards to the Greek for 'enter' in John 3:5.

The Greek is "eiserchomai", and I wrongly assumed that it was in the articular infinitive w/eis. If 'eiserchomai' is in the aorist infinitive (and the Greek NT I just looked at says it is), then I would say it not only refers to the obvious future entering into the kingdom (eschatological sense), but also (and more directly) refers to a present entrance as well.

Can you tell I'm an amateur??? :-)

Mitch said...


No worries, I just wanted to make sure that I wasn't missing anything.

Grace & Peace

Ian D. Elsasser said...


The eschatological kingdom is God's end-time rule which is brought into the present with the arrival of the King, Messiah Jesus. John 3 is addressing salvation historical concerns, not an ordo salutis. Nicodemus and his compatriots expected to share in the end-time rule of God when it dawned because they were keeping God's covenant with Israel by adhering to the Law. Jesus brought this assumption into question by declaring that he could have no part in the kingdom unless he underwent a divine begetting. At this point, Jesus is not even discussing faith, let alone faith preceding faith. Faith is not introduced until verse 15 when, in answer to Nicodemus' question, "How can these things be?" (v. 9), Jesus says by His being "lifted up" (v. 14) and faith (v. 15). If anything, one might argue that John 3 teaches that faith precedes regeneration. However, faith and the new birth are co-existent. It is pointless to argue which comes first because they are simultaneous, occurring together.

Ian D. Elsasser said...

Mitch said:

I wonder if you could clarify something for me.

You said the "see" in verse 3 is an aorist infinitive and that it means present ability & knowledge.

Ok so far, but then you said that enter at verse 5 speaks to a future, my question would be why here? It also is an aorist infinitive.

Grace & Peace


The aorist infinitive does not necessarily indicate whether the action is present or future since the emphasis is generally upon the kind of action rather than time of action. The aorist tense views action as simply occurring whereas the present tense is continuous or repeated action. Determinant for the meaning of John 3 is the context and the Old Testament background. The Old Testament figures prominently in the Gospel of John.

Mark said...

Lemke equates regeneration with eternal life On Lemke’s interpretation of key passages which suggest faith precedes regeneration (John 3:16, 36; 6:51, 53-54, 57; 11:25; 20:31), Lemke gets it wrong by assuming he equates regeneration with eternal life. Quoting Schreiner and Caneday, Barrett suggests “eternal life” is not only a present reality but an eschatological reality and “by definition is life of the age to come.” Therefore, Lemke cannot be right. Barrett goes on to suggest some passages would simply not make sense if regeneration were equated with eternal life.

The point is made clear when one examines other passages (which Lemke does not mention) that use the phrase eternal life to refer to a gift to be received in the age to come (Mark 10:17, 29-30; Romans 2:6-7, 23; Galatians 6:8; 1 Timothy 6:19; Titus 1:2; 3:7; James 1:12; Revelation 2:10).Notice how it sounds if we equate, as Lemke does, eternal life in these passages with regeneration. For example, Jesus, responding to the rich young ruler states, ‘Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers…for my sake and the gospel, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time…and in the age to come regeneration (eternal life)” (Mark 10:29-30).