Can Men Believe Without Regeneration?
Gen. James Green
C HRIST JESUS died so as to make men live (SPIRITUALLY). The Holy Spirit was sent in order to establish order in those who receive Christ as Savior and Lord.
So, in becoming a Christian, those “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), receive eternal life, and this ONLY comes by regeneration: growing in grace comes because of this new life in Christ. Yet, eternal life is by faith; e.g., “That whosoever believeth in Him should…have eternal life” (Jn. 3:15); “He that…believeth…is passes from death unto life” (Jn. 5:24); “Every one who…believeth on Him, may have everlasting life” (Jn. 6:40); “He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life” (Jn. 6:47); “He that believeth in Me…shall…live” (Jn. 11:25); “Believing, ye might have life” (Jn. 20:31). There are dozens of verses that refutes Calvinism.
1 Peter 1:21-23
“WHO BY HIM do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (King James Bible).
“Through Him you believe in (adhere to, rely on) God, Who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him honor and glory, so that your faith and hope are [centered and rest] in God. Since by your obedience to the Truth through the [Holy ] Spirit you have purified your hearts for the sincere affection of the brethren, [see that you] love one another fervently from a pure heart. You have been regenerated (born again), not from a mortal origin (seed, sperm), but from one that is immortal by the ever living and lasting Word of God” (Amplified Bible).
The Words or Word “being born again,” “begotten,” “begat” all denote REGENERATION— and are “Biblically Correct” thru FAITH in the Gospel. It is the Word of God that regenerates…but we must, as sinners, respond to that Word. Therefore, the Calvinistic version of “regeneration” (without faith), is unScriptural.
Observe please (in these verses) that the brothers/sisters believe in God, not because the Son has revealed the Father (see Mt. 11:27), but because the Father has revealed the Son…by raising Him from the dead (v. 21).
Verse 22 (I prefer the RSV here): “Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth…” What the apostle Peter was writing, his meaning is: “Your obedient acceptance of the Gospel truth has cleansed your souls (of sin) and made them ready for love of the people of God.”
My point here is to show you that by accepting the Gospel (in a fallen state), these people’s sins were cleansed by their believing upon Christ/in Christ. They were not regenerated without belief/faith!... “Being born again” (KJV), “born anew” (RSV), “by the Word of God” (v. 23).
Christianity = A Redemption
PETER EXPRESSES his own experience when he says that Christianity is redemption, deliverance, and freedom—which is personal and centers in a person—Christ Jesus.
The presence of this “unfeigned love” (KJV), “sincere love” (RSV), is proof of regeneration. The presence of this “love” attests to the fact that one has new life, generated by the Living, Abiding, and Imperishable Word of the Lord ➔this is the Good News!
So, what does the Word teach? It teaches that sinners can’t redeem themselves; they, in a fallen state of sinfulness, can and must RESPOND to the Gospel by faith in order to be born again. Once saved, the Holy Spirit works within one’s life—leading and teaching—in order that the Christian can mature (be perfect or complete in Christ).
SCRIPTURE REPEATEDLY says that God desires ALL men to repent. The Calvinists try to convince us that the sinner is free to turn to Christ, but is not able. How silly. Paul said in 2 Cor. 5:11: “We persuade men.” Pray tell me how this can be done “IF” men “CANNOT” respond?
Let’s look at the word “persuade”: (Strong’s G3982; peitho= “to convince (by argument), assure, believe, have confidence, obey, yield” etc.
Paul’s “fear” of the Lord (reverential) leads him to PERSUADE men, either of the (Gospel) truth and urgency of that Gospel message, or of the integrity of his ministry and motives.
So, if men can be “persuaded,” why do the Calvinists say they cannot? Paul appeals to man’s conscience.
We could trace this Greek word back to non-Biblical usage as well, but let me point out another text (New Testament) where the word “persuade” or “persuading” is used: “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not” (Acts 28:23, 24). Verse 24 tells us that “some BELIEVED,” meaning that some were “convinced.” Paul finishes up with: “Be it known therefore unto you that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles and that they will hear it” (as sinners, they will hear and believe—in their fallen state!).
Paul, in 2 Cor. 5:11, sought to win men to the Gospel (and/or) by convincing them of his apostolic calling.
“AND HE REASONED in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
Here we find Paul reasoning in the synagogue whereby he “persuaded” the Jews AND Greeks—both of whom were unregenerated. We go down to v. 8 and read: “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.”
Here we have an unregenerated Jewish ruler BELIEVING on the Lord—along with many others. Not a word about God “saving” them before they could “believe” (see also Acts 19:8 where “persuading” is used; some believed, some “were hardened”).
BIBLICAL ASSURANCE of salvation is by FAITH—our FAITH!!—in God’s Word; ETERNAL LIFE IS OFFERED AS A FREE GIFT TO ALL WHO BELIEVE on the basis of Christ Jesus having paid the penalty for sin demanded by God’s justice. So, one’s security lies not in word (per se), but in God’s faithfulness to forgive one’s sins “IF” he/she REPENTS!
And I need to add here, “believing” also includes “LIVING” the required Christian life. Too many today avoid this requirement.
Just as believing and repentance are the key that opens the eternal door to Heaven, so those who persevere not in faith, holy living, love, and obedience, will perish in the end. One’s final salvation is made contingent upon the subsequent obedience which comes by faith and repentance.
Hard to Believe!
ONE CALVINIST writes: “Are we to believe that (those) totally separated from God can come up with…repentance toward God…simply from themselves?” YES! Actually, one is not TOTALLY SEPARATED from God until one is in Hell—and then His presence is there, not for salvation, but for eternal judgment.
Think about this.