Does Justification Change Us?

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44 Comments
  1. Without having listened to any part of this yet, I say that justification does change us, for when we realize our justification we have come to the cross, realized our sin, found the grace of God that not only justifies but sanctifies, for we have tasted of the love of God and having done so, we begin to repond to God because he first loved us. We do so because we have experienced Christ at that time we found we needed him most.
    We are never the same for the man who has been forgiven will love, and the man that was forgiven the most will love the most.

    It seems to me that when I see a man that loves God greatly, I should remember that he was forgiven greatly, and what God has done for him, God is able to do for me also.

  2. I don’t believe we go from sinner to innocent, but from guilty and facing death to charges being dropped because another paid, and now we face a sentence of life in Jesus.

  3. Having been justified freely by God’s grace (Jesus) we are then in a condition of being better than we were when we were innocent, for
    we have now received some education in God which is truly divine, and now we should be wiser for it.

    Though it was our sin that caused us to be in a great darkness, lost, and in need of salvation, it was the grace of God that caused us to be enlightened unto life eternal.

    I believe this is a part of God’s restoring process which makes for a better condition than before the fall, just as after an auto accident, a car might be restored completely having every damaged part replaced by something new with parts that have been upgraded with new technology which holds a promise of better performance. (Of course a lot of how this new technology and performance manifests itself or not has something to do with the owner and driver of the vehicle.)

  4. It hurts to crash and even the restoration can be a slow and painful process. We have to be patient and maybe pick up some other virtues. It isn’t always easy. It’s costly. It was an expensive situation we got into.

  5. Conversely, a question that may be asked is, can someone have a changed life (for the better) without becoming a Christian?

  6. I believe the answer is absolutely yes! Do we always realize the change has begun, absolutely not! I accepted Christ as a smoker. The process had begun but it was some time before I was so convicted I HAD to quit. Romans 8:30 explains the process we go through but we sheep can take a minute to get the message. Blessings.

  7. Dear Dr. Brown,

    I enjoy your show and thank you for your labors for the Kingdom.

    I believe you are confusing Justification with being Born Again (Regeneration).

    In the modern evangelical church we tend to use such terms as salvation, born again and justification interchangeably, which can lead to much confusion.

    Historic Protestant Theology makes a clear distinction between Justification and Regeneration.

    Regeneration is when God fundamentally changes us and gives us new life. This is a radical inward change that leads to faith and repentance and thus our Justification.

    Justification is a legal change, that doesn’t technically change us inwards, but changes our standing before God.

    From our Regeneration and Justification we are called to live a life of holiness, i.e. sanctification. These good works do not justify us, but are by-products of our justification. To paraphrase Calvin, “we are saved by faith alone, but saving faith is never alone.”

    Though Justification doesn’t technically change us inwardly (unlike Regeneration which comes before Justification), we continue to cling to good news (found primarily in Word & Sacrament) that we our justified solely by the work of Christ as a means to give us assurance while making us increasingly dead to sin and alive to holiness.

    In Christ,
    Doug

  8. Doug,

    Nicely said.

    Romans 3
    30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
    31 Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.

    Romans 6
    15 What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
    16 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
    17 But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
    18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
    19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

    Romans 8
    4 That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
    5 For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.
    6 For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
    7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

    The Law of YHWH does seem to have much to do with the out working of our salvation in righteousness and holiness. The carnal mind can’t submit to the Torah. The regenerated person loves YHWH’s law and it (the Torah) renews/converts/transforms his soul/mind.

    Ephesians 5
    26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
    27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

    Romans 12
    1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
    2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

    Psalm 19
    7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.
    8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.
    9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
    10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
    11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

    Psalm 119
    97 MEM. O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
    98 Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
    99 I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
    100 I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
    101 I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
    102 I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
    103 How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
    104 Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.

    165 Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.
    166 LORD, I have hoped for thy salvation, and done thy commandments.

    Jeremiah 31
    33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

    His law written in our heart means that we will be caused to love it. But loving it and hearing it only is not enough

    James 1
    21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
    22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

    Shalom

  9. Bo,

    I’ll repeat here my post from the show where I interviewed my son-in-law Ryan Bruss.

    Bo,

    May I make a simple request (rather than having someone monitoring your posts all the time)? I think you’ve had more than enough space here to post your pro-Torah-observance thoughts (really, “more than enough space” is a understatement), so I am kindly requesting that you figure out a way to post on other threads here without trying to argue your position again. Not only are post like this overkill, but they are disrespectful to the forum here and takes attention away from the issues we’re addressing. Plus, you certainly have other, good things to say but they get lost in the midst of your pushing your Torah-observance position.

    So, to you and all those who would like to discuss Torah observance for today, this is NOT the thread to do it.

    Thanks!

  10. Dr. Brown,

    I meant no off topic discussion here. As always, I attempt to stay on the subject matter. Suffice it to say that I was simply showing how YHWH’s Torah is applicable to the topic of “Does justification change us.” Some may not have thought about this aspect of change. My post above does show the correlation…I think. I’ll try to keep my posts on topic. Thanks for the opportunity to post freely. If you feel you must censor me, I will understand.

    Shalom

  11. Bo,

    Theoretically, I could bring up almost any major biblical subject and show how it is relevant to any particular thread, but that is obviously not the goal here. Simply respect the thrust of each thread and get off your hobby horse (however sacred it is to you), and everyone will benefit.

    Thanks!

  12. Dr. Brown,

    Would you be opposed to the following scripture and statement fitting this thread?

    Romans 3
    30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
    31 Do we then make void the law (Torah) through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Torah).

    It seems that however justification changes us, it does not negate YHWH’s law’s application to our lives.

    Shalom

  13. Is there something wrong with the recording of this show? I can only get to the end of the opening song and then it shuts off like it is over. :0(

  14. Grace,
    I don’t know about your computer set up, but a similar thing happens to me because my dial-up is slow. If I wait, the buffering will continue however slowly. So what I do is turn my volume off and let it “buffer” and come back in an hour or so. Usually that allows me to listen to the program.

    I’m not sure if this is helpful, but thought it might be.

    I was reading Steve’s post (#6) and do believe the change that God does cause in his children often takes time. I do believe the change is connected to our justification, which was in effect when we came to know our sin (whatever it was at the time) and came to the cross where the burden we had been carrying was lifted.

    A group of us was once asked “Who (or what?) is the Lord to you?” There were many answers. One answer was “Jesus is my drinking buddy.”

    I trust the young man who made that statement or confession, came to know that by justification, among other things such as faith.

    If a man is to have a drinking buddy, is there any better than Jesus? He knows when it’s time to stop. Gently he can place his hand upon a man and let him know. If he obeys he will be blessed. I’ve come to understand that there is always a blessing in obedience and that I’ve often missed my blessing. If a man doesn’t obey there can be consequences. A man who knows Jesus as his drinking buddy will know he has help which is of God.

    Jesus helped me quit smoking also. He opened my ear to a thing or two. I heard about how it’s important to set a date to quit. It’s a part of being prepared in heart and mind to do a thing. So I made my date which was about six months or so away on the calendar. It was Thanksgiving Day.
    I was so ready to quit I couldn’t seem to wait. I quit the day before and hadn’t smoked a cigarette since. That was about 15 years ago.

    I think a lot of these changes are connected to our justification. I do believe it changes us.

    Justification begins a relationship with Jesus.

    I think that statement might make a good bumper sticker. It might encourage someone going down the path of life. I suppose too we could try to find a fault with it and pick it apart, but what good would that do?

    If it’s misleading we should change it.

  15. Acceptance in the beloved, Eph. 1:6 KJV, does begin change in us. It is at a different rate among different souls, people, or cultural regard, where so. Jesus did not come to clone converts, but to conform converts to his way, truth, and life. If we continue in his word, we shall know the truth and the truth shall set us free. What this means may be more important in the long run than initial justification. Ours is the burden of belief, conformity to grace and truth, and pressing in; His is the challenge of discipling disciples, going after lost sheep, and disciplining sons.

  16. Romans 4:5
    “But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,”

    With regard to eternal life, I believe that justification is a singular event that takes place subsequent to a person’s initial faith in Christ. I believe that this justification is ever-lasting and is effective in establishing an individual, regardless of personal holiness, as legally blameless before God.

    However, I also believe that should a person disregard the call to holiness, that person is at risk of receiving God’s judgment and might be cast into outer darkness during the Millennial Reign of Christ where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

    In short, some will be saved and receive rewards, and others will be saved through fire.

    Blessings,
    Greg

  17. Blessings, Doug.

    You said “Historic Protestant Theology makes a clear distinction between Justification and Regeneration. Regeneration is when God fundamentally changes us and gives us new life. This is a radical inward change that leads to faith and repentance and thus our Justification.”

    While this is clearly “Historic Protestant Theology”, or Calvinism, it is unfortunately not historic biblical theology.

    In reformed circles, the “ordo solutis” is regeneration, faith, justification. The biblical order is faith, justification, regeneration. Look carefully at Romans 4:5…..

    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth THE UNGODLY, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

    Please notice here that God justifies “the ungodly” or “wicked”. Are those who have been “born of God” still considered to be ungodly? Also notice that “the ungodly” or “wicked” do have faith.

    You believe that regeneration, or spiritual life, leads to faith and repentance. However, look what the scripture says in Acts 11:18….

    “When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to (spiritual) life.’”

    Notice it is repentance that leads to spiritual life, or regeneration, and not spiritual life that leads to repentance.

  18. Is ongoing regeneration with applied justification then what is historically called sanctificatio; and so, isn’t it impossible to have one without the other?

  19. Jabez H.,

    It would seem that Y’Shua was addressing this in His statement, “depart form me you who work lawlessness.” James would say, “I’ll show you my faith by my works.” Real justification produces real sanctification.

    Romans 3
    30 Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.
    31 Do we then make void the law (Torah) through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law (Torah).

    Shalom

  20. So it seems the grace of God leads to repentance.

    First comes the grace of God, then hearing of it, then faith, then repentance, then justification, then sanctification, and the promise of eternal life.

    When I think of the grace of God, I think of Jesus.

  21. Blessings, Ray.

    I agree completely that salvation is all of grace. That is just biblical.

    My point to Doug above, and most Calvinists, was showing from scripture the biblical order in relation to justification and regeneration. Only in Calvin-Land is regeneration put before justification.

    However, the text of scripture, along with the biblical examples, clearly show that justification precedes regeneration. And that faith precedes justification. That said, the biblical order would be……

    Grace, faith, justification, regeneration.

  22. Ray, Prayer closet echo chamber, “when I think of Grace, I think of Jesus.” Tears here on reading that simple line of faith.

  23. Dr. Brown,

    My name is Ya’akov; in the U.S., Jake Baum. I have seen some of your “Think It Thru” videos. Your videos have left an impression on me. I felt you spoke truthfully and presented a rational, reasonable, and realistic portrayal of
    Yeshua, and I want to thank you for that.

    I’m originally my Haifa, Israel. My family came to the US in 1962 when I was ten. We lived in Brooklyn for some time. Then we moved to Manhatten by Spanish Harlem (Broadway and 172nd Street); later we moved to Los Angeles; currently I live in New Mexico. In 1995, at 44, I found my way back to Israel, but I was homeless and unemployed for some time, staying at a hostel, and was feeling desperate and hungry. Nothing was working out.

    I don’t know why, but I remembered a children’s tv program I’d seen as a young boy which taught the song, “Jesus loves me, this I know, ’cause the Bible tells me so.” I began to think this over and over in my mind, to myself, having drawn some unexplainable comfort from that little song.

    I know it sounds childish! But things started to dramatically turn around. It was amazing to me. I was just beside myself. People started offering me help, a job, food, medical care. To me, it was a divine experience.

    For some time now, I have felt that people put such a major emphasis on whether Yeshua Ha-Mashiach is the true Messiah or not. I would meet, for instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, etc., and I feel that people argue too much over whether He is or isn’t. For me it is more important to concentrate on his return and arrival to Jerusalem.

    I also listen to your radio program from time to time. I want to thank you for all of your presentations, which I have very much enjoyed.

    Yours,
    Jake

  24. Hello Wingedfooted1,

    Thanks for the response and greetings for “Calvin-Land!”

    I do believe that the historic Protestant view that salvation is monergistic is the biblical one, over against the Roman Catholic and Arminian view of synergism. This was the critical doctrinal debate that caused the Reformation, with all the early Protestants (Lutherans, Reformed, Anglicans) affirming a monergistic view of the Gospel. Granted, the Arminian synergistic view is within orthodoxy, and sincere biblical based Christians continue to debate this.

    You cited Romans 4:5 to prove your point, but I simply don’t see it. You are arguing for “faith . . . justification . . . regeneration”, while I believe the Bible teaches “regeneration . . . faith . . . justification.” Please note, we both agree that justification comes after faith, the point of dispute is whether regeneration comes first (salvation being solely a work of God) or after faith (salvation being a cooperation between man and God).

    Romans 4:5 clearly teaches that from faith comes justification, in this we both agree. But where is regeneration in this verse? It isn’t discussed. So Romans 4:5 is hardly a proof text to defend the Arminian understanding of the Gospel.

    I would make a similar argument with Acts 11:18. Your equating regeneration with repentance is not warranted, they are two different things that make up salvation. Besides, who is doing the granting in Acts 11:18? It is not man with a supposed libertarian free will, but a sovereign God.

    We should first look at those texts in Scripture that deal with the subject in detail. For example, Paul in Titus 3:3-8 gives the following order:

    1) Dead in sin (v.3)
    2) Salvation is based solely on God’s mercy (v.4-5a)
    3) Regeneration (v.5b-6)
    4) Justification (v.7a)
    5) Adoption (v.7b)
    6) Sanctification (v.8)

    Note, that in Paul’s ordo salutis regeneration comes before justification.

    Peter teaches a similar doctrine in 1Peter 1:3-5. In verse 3 the apostle writes that God has “caused us to be born again.” Note the origin of the new birth, it is not from man cooperating with God, but solely an act of God. It is after speaking about God causing the new birth does Peter speak about faith in verse 5.

    Again, I would argue this is an “in-house” debate. Both Reformed and Arminian are within Christian orthodoxy. Doctrine does matter, however, and how you view the Gospel will impact how you worship, evangelize and encourage the saints.

    Thank you again,
    Christ’s grace to you,
    Doug

  25. Blessings, Doug.

    You said “Romans 4:5 clearly teaches that from faith comes justification, in this we both agree. But where is regeneration in this verse?”.

    I ask you again, are those who have been “born or God”, or regenerated, considered by God to be UNGODLY?

    As you have already stated, you believe the order to be regeneration (spiritual life), faith, and justification. Yet look at Romans 8:10….

    “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, YET YOUR SPIRIT IS ALIVE BECAUSE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

    Now read that verse again very carefully. What causes your spirit to be “alive”?

    RIGHTEOUSNESS.

    Now WHEN are we as sinners declared righteous before God?

    When was Abraham declared righteous?

    Romans 4:3….
    What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
    Paul goes on and tells us in Romans 4:22-24….
    This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—FOR US WHO BELIEVE IN HIM who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

    Romans 3:22….
    Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ UNTO ALL AND UPON ALL THEM THAT BELIEVE.

    Please notice that we are declared righteous by God AFTER we believe. And it is BECAUSE of this imputed righteous from God (Romans 8:10) that we are “born again”, regenerated, or given spiritual life. We are declared righteous BECAUSE we believe. And it is BECAUSE of this righteousness from God that we are alive spiritually. Any other rendering is just not being honest with the text.

    If the Bible teaches “regeneration precedes faith”, as Calvinism teaches, and you embrace, can you please provide one, just one, biblical example of a sinner being born again prior to faith in Christ?

  26. When a man’s justification comes by faith, what a burden is fallen from him! It’s then that he feels rejuvenated. (Job 33:25,30)

    Before justification a man is in a horible pit.

    When God justifies a man, he is changed in my opinion.

    If a man is in a regenerated conditon, would he need to be justified afterward?

    Would God send a man like Elihu to Job if he was regenerated and needed not to be justified? (Job 33:32) God sent Elihu to Job that he might justify him through the good news of that day. He did so because at that time Job was in a wretched condition, not because he was in a regenerated condition.

    Therefore it seems to me that Job’s justification came before his regeneration.

  27. Blessings, Ray.

    Again, look at Romans 4:5…
    “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the WICKED (or UNGODLY), his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    According to Calvinism (remember, only those “born of God” can have faith) the verse should read…

    “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the REGENERATE, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    If regeneration precedes faith, then only those who are “born of God” are later justified. For Calvinism to be true, “the ungodly” would have to be synonymous for “the regenerate”. In other words, “the ungodly” is the same as “the regenerate”.

    However, the UNGODLY are not “born of God” or regenerated. God justifies the UNGODLY by faith, not the REGENERATE.

    In Calvin-Land, the sinner is “in Christ” BEFORE he believes “in Christ”.

    That is just not biblical.

  28. And faith, in Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection impedes His righteousness on believers, does it not? At least for a season, until obedience becomes a factor of the equation.

    In any event, it is belief and confession that first justify unto salvation. I suspect that regeneration and adoption are simultaneous events of the initial transaction of faith, after the Promise of the Holy Spirit was indeed sent to those calling on His name. Recall in Mt. 16, Peter’s famous confession became the rock foundation upon which Jesus would build his church for every confessing person. However, even Peter had to wait for the Promise of the Spirit for regeneration.

    After Pentecost it seems that the book of Acts contains a few different “orders” of faith and regeneration’s “acceptance in the beloved,” among early believing groups. Sort that out with these splitting hair doctrinal assumptions for us, will you?

  29. Blessings, Doug.

    I stated previously that, according to Calvinism, the sinner must be “in Christ” BEFORE he believes “in Christ”. However, I want to show you what the scriptures teach regarding this matter.

    Romans 6:11………..
    In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive (spiritually) to God in Christ Jesus.

    Notice those “in Christ” are alive spiritually to God.

    1 Corinthians 15:2……..
    For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

    Only those “in Christ” will be made alive spiritually. Being “in Christ” is the prerequisite for being alive spiritually. Those “in Christ” (present tense) will be (future tense) made alive spiritually.

    2 Corinthians 5:17………
    Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come!

    Only when someone is “in Christ” will all things become new, including his spiritual condition.

    Now the question is, WHEN are we “in Christ”?

    Ephesians 1:13…….
    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed (the gospel), you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

    Notice we are not included “in Christ” until we hear and believe the word of truth, or the gospel. Prior to faith in Christ, there is no spiritual life.

    Doug, let me say that I greatly appreciate your willingness to come here and interact. I can tell you have a great love for the Lord. However, the calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith” is just not biblical. Anyone who preaches this is in error and has not done his own due diligence in regards to studying the scriptures. I know and understand that calvinistic leaders such as Piper and Sproul (among many others) teach this, but they are misguided. This teaching (regeneration precedes faith) is not from the Lord. This teaching is solely “reformed”, but it is not scriptural.

    My previous 2 questions still stand. Please think these through.

    1. Regarding Romans 4:5, are “the wicked” or “the ungodly” the same as “the regenerate”? Are those “born of God” classified by God to be “the ungodly”?

    2. Can you show one biblical example from scripture where the sinner who believed in Christ had been previously regenerated? Is there one example when the author of the book stated that the sinner had previously been regenerated prior to coming to faith in Christ (for example, like “What does the scripture say? Having been previously regenerated, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness)? With all the people coming to Christ in the NT, surely just one example can be provided.

    Grace

  30. That’s good stuff Wingedfooted1.

    Additionally, consider the numerous people in the Gospel accounts who confessed Jesus as the Christ prior to His crucifixion: Peter, Martha, Andrew, Samaritans (John 4), people of Jerusalem (John 7), and other “Son of David” Messianic confessions. (This list does not include those, such as John the Baptist, who confessed Him as the Son of God.)

    Calvinism teaches that men are so dead in trespasses and sins that they are unable to savingly believe in Jesus; thus, requiring pre-faith regeneration. However, as mentioned previously, you have numerous people that confessed Jesus as both the Christ and the Son of God before He had ever been crucified. suggesting, according to the tenets of Calvinism, that these people were born again and “in Christ” prior to the atonement. How can someone be born again before their sins have been propitiated? This is very problematic in my opinion.

    The necessity of someone first being “in Christ” makes this even more interesting because this requires the people mentioned above to be “in Christ” while Christ is still on earth. Furthermore, the thief on the cross that “believed in Jesus” went to Paradise. Which was where -> Abraham’s Bosom.

    Why would someone “in Christ” be in Abraham’s Bosom? Wasn’t this the place that Christ ascended from and lead “captivity captive?”

    You following me?

    Peace.

  31. wingedfooted1,

    Now the question is, WHEN are we “in Christ”?

    Ephesians 1:13…….
    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed (the gospel), you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

    Notice we are not included “in Christ” until we hear and believe the word of truth, or the gospel. Prior to faith in Christ, there is no spiritual life.

    Actually, akousantes [heard] as well as pisteusantes [believed] are Aorist participles, with an aorist verb [esphragisthete (you were sealed)]. Because the participles and the main verbs are in the aorist tense, they are contemporanious. Hence, the hearing of the word, the believing, and the being sealed happen at once.

    My previous 2 questions still stand. Please think these through.

    1. Regarding Romans 4:5, are “the wicked” or “the ungodly” the same as “the regenerate”? Are those “born of God” classified by God to be “the ungodly”?

    As far as Romans 4, you are confusing justification and regeneration. They are not the same thing. They are certainly related, but they are not the same.

    2. Can you show one biblical example from scripture where the sinner who believed in Christ had been previously regenerated? Is there one example when the author of the book stated that the sinner had previously been regenerated prior to coming to faith in Christ (for example, like “What does the scripture say? Having been previously regenerated, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness)? With all the people coming to Christ in the NT, surely just one example can be provided.

    I can give you examples where the text of scripture flat out denies that anything else is possible:

    John 1:12-13 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

    Here, the text specifically says that the new birth has nothing to do with the will of man. Hence, if you make belief something that a rebel sinner can do, then you contradict this passage.

    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.

    Notice how John here says that everyone who is [present tense] believing has been born [past tense] of God. This relationship of the present participle to the perfect verb makes the main verb [has been born] prior to the action of the belief.

    Finally, I think that the main problem with this view is that salvation depends upon the will of man. However, Paul says:

    Romans 9:16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

    Paul says it doesn’t depend upon the man who wills and runs, yet you say that it does.

    Greg,

    All of your argumentation depends upon dispensationalist views of the Bible. If you allow that the propitiation of Christ is certain from eternity past, then there is no problem, since the Old Testament saints are looking forward to the coming of Christ.

    The work of the cross happened in time, but its effects are timeless. If what you are saying is true, then Christ only propitiated the wrath for people living at the time he was crucified! Remember, we had not even lived yet, nor even committed our first sin when Christ died. If God can look back to something that has already happened as satisfaction for his wrath, why can he not look forward to something that would happen in order to satisfy his wrath?

    Also, your view of death depends upon a traditional dispensationalist view of the afterlife as well, which most Calvinists [and even, increasingly, many dispensationalists] reject. I believe that there only were ever two places, heaven and hell in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament.

    God Bless,
    Adam

  32. Blessings, Adam.

    Thank you for joining the discussion.

    Regarding Ephesians 1:13…….
    And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed (the gospel), you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

    You said “Hence, the hearing of the word, the believing, and the being sealed happen at once.”

    Not necessarily. There are those who hear the gospel and yet come to faith in Christ later on. Not everyone who hears the gospel comes to faith at that very moment. However, that said, the order by Paul is clear. The word of truth is preached, we then believe. Having believed, you then receive the Holy Spirit. Only AFTER we believe, are we then “in Christ”. And the bible makes it very clear that one has to be “in Christ” to obtain spiritual life (or the new birth).

    1 Corinthians 15:2……..
    For as in Adam all die, so “in Christ” all will be made (spiritually) alive.

    Regarding Romans 4:5….
    “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies THE UNGODLY, his faith is credited as righteousness”.

    I am not confusing justification with regeneration. The calvinistic teaching is…..

    Regeneration, faith, justification.

    Looking at that order, then only those who can be justified are those who have been already regenerated, or “born of God”. Yet the verse plainly reads that God justifies THE UNGODLY. If Calvinism were true, the verse would have to read…

    “But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies THE REGENERATE, his faith is credited as righteousness”.

    Who are “the UNGODLY” or “the WICKED”? Those “born of God”?

    Hardly.

    The “ungodly”, or “the wicked”, is referring to those “dead in trespasses and sins”. The “wicked” are the Lost. The “ungodly” are those “not of God”.

    Finally, relating to my request for actual biblical examples of people being regenerated prior to coming to faith, which, if true, wouldn’t be impossible, you failed to do so. Instead, you just provided more “proof” texts.

    Look at John 1:12-13 again…
    “But to as many as did receive and welcome Him, He gave the authority (power, privilege, right) to become the children of God, that is, to those who believe in (adhere to, trust in, and rely on) His name–Who owe their birth neither to bloods nor to the will of the flesh [that of physical impulse] nor to the will of man [that of a natural father], but to God. [They are born of God!]”

    Now compare that with Galatians 3:26…
    “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

    Only in Calvin-Land can someone be “born of God”, only to become “a child of God” afterwards.

    1 John 5:1 reads….
    “EVERYONE WHO believes (adheres to, trusts, and relies on the fact) that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) is a born-again child of God”.

    Calvinism would like to rewrite 1 John 5:1 to read….

    “BEFORE anyone can believe that Jesus is the Christ, he must be born again first”.

    Again, if the calvinistic interpretation of these verses are true (that the sinner is “born again” prior to faith), then you should be able to provide actual biblical examples to support it. After all, we are supposed to let scripture interpret scripture. But again, you have failed to do so.

    Please consider the following texts…..

    John 20:31….
    But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that BY BELIEVING you may have (spiritual) life in his name.

    Notice it is by believing that we receive spiritual life, or the new birth.

    John 5:39-40…….
    You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me (or believe in me) to have (spiritual) life.

    Notice it is the unbelief of these Jews that prevents them from obtaining spiritual life (or the new birth).

    Doug/Adam, my previous 2 questions STILL stand…

    1. Regarding Romans 4:5, are “the wicked” or “the ungodly” the same as “the regenerate”? Are those “born of God” classified by God to be “the ungodly”?

    Yes or No?

    2. Can you show one biblical example from scripture where the sinner who believed in Christ had been previously regenerated? Is there one example when the author of the book stated that the sinner had previously been regenerated prior to coming to faith in Christ (for example, like “What does the scripture say? Having been previously regenerated, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness)? With all the people coming to Christ in the NT, surely just one example can be provided.

  33. Hi Adam,

    Please help me to understand…

    Would it be accurate to say that you believe the OT Saints, in addition to the (NT) individuals I mentioned previously, were fully justified and reconciled to God at the moment of their initial faith because of what Christ would do on Calvary at some point in the future?

    Thanks,
    Greg

  34. #34 Adam,

    You left off of your cited equation: “sealed in the Spirit.” If we read Acts, Pentecost onward, this seems to come at different times in the groups’ cited profession of faith in Jesus the Christ. If anything, this shows that our Father and His Son are humble in their applications of the gifsts of salvation, and associated regeneration by the Spirit. And, even then, we must take a closer look and relize Paul discusses elsewhere “until Christ be formed in you.” We have access to Him by repentance and profession, then are to renew our minds and actions to be sanctified in the realtionship with him. As past written, after profession, even Peter had to await the Promise to be enbolded by the Spirit to share the Kingdom message of the Messiah.

  35. I promise to reread next time, but find this entry box restricting in that regard.
    #34 Adam,

    You left off of your cited equation: “sealed in the Spirit.” If we read Acts, Pentecost onward, this seems to come at different times in the groups’ cited order of profession of faith in Jesus the Christ. If anything, this shows that our Father and His Son are humble in their applications of the gifts of salvation, and associated regeneration by the Spirit. And, even then, we must take a closer look and realize that Paul discusses elsewhere “until Christ be formed in you.” We have access to Him by repentance and profession, then are to renew our minds and actions to be sanctified in the realtionship with him. As past written, after profession, even Peter had to await the Promise to be emboldened by the Spirit to share the Kingdom message of the Messiah. One thing is for certain, He, not we, are in charge of the application and interpretation of that unique process and position of being “in Christ”.

  36. Blessings, Greg.

    It seems our brothers in Christ have chosen (free will) not to respond to our queries or God ordained that they would not (calvinism). You asked…..

    “Would it be accurate to say that you believe the OT Saints were fully justified and reconciled to God at the moment of their initial faith because of what Christ would do on Calvary at some point in the future?”

    Adam said “The work of the cross happened in time, but its effects are timeless.”

    However, I though about Romans 3:25-26…….

    “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”

    If, in fact, ALL the benefits of the cross are timeless, then why were the folks in Abraham’s bosom denied access to heaven until Christ’s death on the cross? What was the holdup?

    Adam then said “I believe that there only were ever two places, heaven and hell in the Old Testament, as well as the New Testament.”

    What about Abraham’s bosom, or paradise?

    Now, I asked two simple questions. In Romans 4:5 is the “ungodly” the same as the regenerate? Are those “born of God” the same as “the wicked”?

    I couldn’t get a simple “yes” or “no”.

    Then I asked them to provide a biblical example of someone being “born again” prior to coming to faith.

    Instead of being honest with the scriptures and confessing that they could not, they (at least Adam) attempted to provide other “proof” texts to support their position. Honestly, not being able to provide even one such example should have at least raised a few eyebrows, or make one reconsider their position, but instead, their hearts were hardened. The calvinistic notion of “regeneration precedes faith” is not just unbiblical, it’s a lie. And any one who spreads this unbiblical lie should be ashamed.

    Only in Calvin-Land is some one born of God (regenerated) only to become a child of God (thru faith in Christ) somewhere further down the road. In other words, you might be “born of God”, but you’re not a “child of God” until you come to faith in Christ.

    Only in Calvin-Land is some one “in Christ” BEFORE they believe “in Christ”.

    It is my hope and prayer that Calvinists like Doug and Adam will, with the grace of God, reconsider their beliefs and think these things thru for themselves.

    “Regeneration precedes faith” is NOT biblical.

  37. I’ve been slowly deliberating on Adam’s comment above regarding the “timeless effects of the Cross,” suggesting that OT Saints, in addition to individuals who confessed Christ before Calvary, were made spiritually alive at the moment of their initial faith because of the “future” atoning work of Christ.

    I don’t believe that Adam’s view (which seems to be common to Calvinists) holds up to scrutiny. Here’s why:

    1. Hebrews 9:16-22, “16 For where there is a testament, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17 For a testament is in force AFTER men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives… and without shedding of blood there is no remission.”

    OT Saints and NT Gospel confessors of Christ could not have been spiritually reborn (e.g. regenerated) until AFTER the death of Jesus (the Testator). Their sins were forgiven AFTER Jesus shed His blood; not before. How can you be spiritually reborn with the wrath of God still abiding on you?

    2. In the “Hall of Faith” passage of Hebrews chapter 11, when referring to the great OT Saints, the author states in verse 39, “And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise…”

    Although the OT Saints saw the promises afar off (vs.13), they could not receive them until AFTER the crucifixion.

    3. Matthew 11:11 states, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”

    In John 1:34 John the Baptist says, “And I have seen and testified that this is the Son of God.”

    John the Baptist, a great prophet, who confessed Jesus as the Son of God, was not in the Kingdom of Heaven according to Matthew 11:11. John was born of a woman, but was not born of the Spirit. Why? The Spirit had not yet been given (John 7:39).

    I could further prove my case, but I feel this is sufficient (at least for now).

    In conclusion, the Calvinist idea that men are unable to savingly believe in God without being regenerated beforehand is unbiblical. Clearly, men and women believed in both Yahweh and Jesus before the crucifixion. However, they did not receive their inheritance (e.g. spiritual rebirth) until AFTER the death of the Testator.

    Louis Berkhof said, “Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man, and the governing principle of the soul is made holy.” If you have not (yet) received forgiveness of sins, you are not holy and are unregenerate. The OT Saints, who believed in God, died unregenerate. Thus, the “T” in TULIP falls short of being sound doctrine. And if one falls…

    Greg

  38. Greg,

    I do agree with you that the OT saints, those from Adam to the thief on the cross, believed prior to the new birth.

    The scriptures make it abundantly clear that the forgiveness of sin is a necessary prerequisite before union with Christ….

    Colossians 2:13…..
    “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, HAVING FORGIVEN YOU ALL TRESPASSES”.

    Notice the forgiveness of sins comes PRIOR to being united (or quickened) to Christ. And the forgiveness of sin is only thru faith.

    Acts 10:43….
    To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHALL RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS.

    Jesus confirms this in John 6:53……..
    I tell you the truth, UNLESS you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no (spiritual) life in you.

    Notice the sinner must “eat his flesh” and “drink his blood” in order to obtain spiritual life. The drinking of his blood would parallel faith in his blood. And unless we “drink his blood” (the same as faith in his blood), we have no spiritual life in us. NONE.

    John 7:38-9………
    Whoever BELIEVES in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of LIVING WATER will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. UP TO THAT TIME THE SPIRIT HAD NOT BEEN GIVEN, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

    Notice that only those who believe will receive “living water” and this “living water” parallels spiritual life. Also notice that this “living water”, or spiritual life, had not as yet been given until the Lord was glorified. In other words, it wasn’t until AFTER Jesus was glorified did people receive this “living water” or spiritual life.

    All that said, just look again at Romans 4:5….

    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth THE UNGODLY, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

    Calvinism teaches the “ordo salutis”(notice Calvinists love Latin because its Catholic) is….

    Regeneration……Faith……Justification.

    Reading that order backwards tells us that the only one who is justified is the one who has faith. And the only one who has faith is the regenerate, or those “born of God”.

    Seems simple enough.

    The problem for Calvinism is Romans 4:5 tells us that God justifies THE UNGODLY. Who would the UNGODLY be but the UNREGENERATE? Where in the Bible are those “born of God” called THE WICKED or THE UNGODLY? And we can also take from Romans 4:5 that THE UNGODLY do have faith.

    Sadly, Doug (and Calvinists like Sproul, White, Piper, and others) doesn’t “see it”, because their faith in their theology (Calvinism) has blinded them to it. Calvinism has “hardened their hearts” to the obvious.

  39. Great insights Wingfooted1! It has become clear to me, both scripturally and logically, that the reformed understanding of total depravity is inaccurate. It might be their weakest link.

  40. Blessings, Greg.

    I really appreciate the kind words and the exchange.

    Reformed Theology (Calvinism) can be very, very tricky.

    Is man “totally depraved”?

    Yes, when it comes to the “law of works”, because no one can keep the law perfectly.

    Galatians 2:16… “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

    But Calvinism takes it to an unbiblical extreme (perverts it) and says man can’t even believe without God first regenerating him. Look at this list of quotes from some of history’s renowned Calvinists….

    John Piper, in his essay, “That Which Is Born of the Spirit is Spirit”, says “The new birth is the result of the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit preceding and enabling our first act of saving faith…When you are born of the Spirit, then a new dimension of supernatural life enters in, spiritual life….Before a person is born of the Spirit, he has no inclination to trust Christ for salvation….Faith is not the means or the cause of the new birth; it is the result, the fruit of new birth.”

    Arthur W. Pink in his book “The Holy Spirit” says “A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerated.”

    Brian Schwertley, in his article “The New Birth” says “The new birth is necessary before a person can believe in Jesus Christ…..an unregenerate man can no more choose Christ as Savior than can a rotting corpse.”

    John MacArthur Jr. says “Faith comes as a result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit-He quickens our hearts to believe. Apart from the new birth, there can be no true faith.”

    R. C. Sproul says in his “New Genesis” sermon, “Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.”

    Sproul also says in his book “Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology”, “We cannot exercise saving faith until we have been regenerated, so we say faith is dependent on regeneration, not regeneration on faith.”

    Sproul adds in his “Dead Men Walking” article “This is why the axiom of Reformed theology is that regeneration precedes faith. Rebirth is a necessary pre-condition for faith. Faith is not possible for spiritually dead creatures. Therefore, we contend that apart from spiritual rebirth there can be no faith”.

    However, the text of scripture, along with biblical examples, rebukes this. So why are so many young Christians deceived by this teaching?

    Bully tactics. And I see them all the time in their sermons, books, and articles. Look at this quote from Sproul….

    “If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, and others, but we stand opposed to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.”

    Obviously, putting faith before regeneration opposes the teaching of Calvinistic leaders, but as we have seen it is the plain teaching of our Lord Jesus, the apostle Paul, and the other writers of scripture. Yet you can see how the statement above would intimidate (or bully) a babe in Christ. I believe it was Adolf Hitler that said…..

    “If you tell a lie hard enough and long enough, eventually it becomes the truth.”

    So it is with the unbiblical notion of “regeneration precedes faith”.

    He who has ears, let him hear.

  41. I wonder if a man first becomes united with Christ by faith and then he becomes aware of his sins, and thereby through Christ, he comes to repentance.

    It seems to me that unite can mean several things.
    It can mean one, or become as one, or it can mean to become combined or joined together.

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