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Which Comes First:


by David A. DePra



This might seem to be a strange question. But did you know that most reformed theology, indeed, what is known as 5 Point Calvinism (5PC), teaches that regeneration, or the new birth, PRECEDES faith in Christ? That’s right. 5PC teaches that you are first born again, by God’s election, and then you believe.


Can we see that this question touches the foundational gospel of Jesus Christ? Thus, we must find the Truth about this question. It is upon this question that the issue of 5PC hangs. Answer this question and the debate is over.


Looking at Some Quotes


Why do those who believe 5PC say that salvation comes BEFORE our faith? The 5P Calvinist argues that faith cannot precede regeneration, because you need to be regenerated in order to exercise faith. They maintain that man in his fallen state is like a corpse. He cannot respond to God. Indeed, he cannot want to respond to God. Thus, God must take the initiative to regenerate those He calls – before any faith is possible on their part. Only AFTER God regenerates them, are they able to believe. Indeed, 5PC teaches that they WILL believe. Not sometimes, but every time.


We must remember here that when 5PC talks about regeneration, it is not talking about anything less than THE new birth. In 5PC, "regeneration" is not merely God drawing people to Christ – so that they can believe and then, at that point, be saved. No. In 5PC, regeneration is completed salvation. So when 5PC says that regeneration precedes faith, it means salvation precedes faith. It means the new birth precedes faith.


To put it more directly, 5PC says that salvation through Christ is NOT received THROUGH the faith of the believer. Rather, salvation is an act of God’s election done TO the UNBELIEVER. Then, because God’s election regenerates the unbeliever, he will later come to believe.


R.C. Sproul, who is a 5PC teacher, verifies that regeneration and the new birth are, in 5PC thinking, the same thing:


To be "born again" is to experience a second genesis. It is a new beginning, a fresh start in life. When something is started, we say that it is generated. If it is started again, it is regenerated. The Greek verb geniauo that is translated as "generate" means "to be," "to become," or "to happen." Regeneration by the Holy Spirit is a change. It is a radical change into a new kind of being.


He also writes:


When my professor wrote, "Regeneration precedes faith" on the blackboard, he was clearly siding with the monergistic answer. To be sure, after a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step, the step of regeneration by which a person is quickened to spiritual life, is the work of God and of God alone. The initiative is with God, not with us.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we cannot. We cannot because we are spiritually, dead. We can no more assist the Holy Spirit in the quickening of our souls to spiritual life than Lazarus could help Jesus raise him from the dead.


R.C. Sproul, The New Genesis, from The Mystery of the Holy Spirit (Tyndale House: Wheaton, 1979).



The Westminster Confession of Faith states:


"This effectual call is of God’s free and special grace alone, not from anything at all foreseen in man; who is altogether passive therein, until, being quickened and renewed by the Holy Spirit, he is thereby enabled to answer this call, and to embrace the grace offered and conveyed in it." (Note: passive…until…quickened; thus all conditions of salvation are done away, X. II. Emphasis added.)


Loraine Boettner says:


"A man is not saved because he believes in Christ; he believes in Christ because he is saved." (Loraine Boettner, Predestination, p. 101; cited by Laurence M. Vance, The Other Side of Calvinism, p. 521.)


Arthur W. Pink says:


"A man is not regenerated because he has first believed in Christ, but he believes in Christ because he has been regenerated." (Arthur W. Pink, The Holy Spirit, Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978, p. 55; cited by Ibid., p. 521.)


R. C. Sproul also says:


"We do not believe in order to be born again; we are born again that we may believe." (R. C. Sproul, Chosen by God, p. 73; cited by Ibid., p. 521.)


In reality, the teaching that regeneration precedes faith cannot be divorced from divine election. For if God must take the initiative to act upon us in order for us to believe, then those who do believe do so by God’s election, and those who do not believe, do not believe because God has not elected them. This conclusion is inescapable.


A Big Problem


If regeneration precedes faith, we have this conclusion: It means God causes us to be born again completely independent of faith in Christ. A 5PC would say, "But that’s good. It is the Truth. That is why grace is a gift, and why no man can boast." So let’s look at this further. If we do, we will see that the notion of "regeneration before faith" is not only unbiblical, but totally illogical.


First of all, if regeneration precedes faith, then it means that the moment after you become a completely regenerated new creature in Christ, you still haven’t yet come to the place where you have put your faith in Christ. In effect, you have salvation, not through faith, but solely by God’s election. You are, moments after God regenerates you, a SAVED UNBELIEVER.


We must see this fact in order to see the nonsense of 5PC. If regeneration precedes faith, then there has to be a specific point in time when God regenerates me. There has to be. There has to be a moment when I am NOT born again, but then, in the next moment, I am regenerated and born again. But according to 5PC, regeneration precedes faith, and so the instant after I am born again, and for some time thereafter, I still have not put my faith in Christ. I eventually will do so, but do not do so at first – or even know to do so. Thus, what we have here is not only a person who was saved independent of his faith, but one who even AFTER he is saved hasn’t put his faith in Christ. In effect, we have a "saved unbeliever."


Is there such a thing as a "saved unbeliever?" A "regenerated unbeliever?" If regeneration precedes faith then there is such a thing. But where do we find this in the Bible?


This gets worse. 5PC teaches that after regeneration a person does put their faith in Christ – and only at that time is the righteousness of Christ imputed to them. But look what this means: It means that we have a regenerated person who is NOT righteous – not righteous until he later puts his faith in Christ. We have new life, salvation, and a new birth, but NO righteousness of Christ. What kind of a new creation is that? Clearly, this is impossible and immoral.


In the Bible, regeneration is identical to the resurrection life of Christ. It is "Christ in us." That is the ONLY KIND of life we have – through union with Christ. It is NOT our life – it is HIS in us. But what do Calvinists want us to believe? That we can be a new creation in Christ Jesus, one with Christ, with His life in us, and yet NOT be declared righteous? Ask again: Is it possible to have the righteous life of Christ in us, yet not be justified by faith? Is it possible to have the righteous life of Christ in us, yet not have His righteous imputed to us legally? 5PC says yes.


If we doubt that our righteousness is, in fact, HIS life and righteousness in us, we need read on a few scriptures:


And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor 1:28-31)


I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)


So this is the first problem with saying that "regeneration precedes faith." If regeneration precedes faith, then it means that moments after we are regenerated – we are still without faith. We are, at that point, "saved unbelievers." Furthermore, although we were "saved by His life," (Rom. 5:10), we have not yet been declared righteous by God. We aren’t justified by faith because we don’t yet have faith. Nothing could be more foreign to the New Testament.


The Calvinist Reply

5PC has been around for about 450 years, and consequently, there are few challenges that it has not had to address. It should not be surprising, therefore, that there is a reply to the challenge that regeneration cannot precede faith, because this would create born again humans who have yet to put their faith in Christ, and are therefore not yet imputed with the righteousness of Christ.

R.C. Sproul writes: (underlining mine)


When speaking of the order of salvation (ordo salutis), Reformed theology always and everywhere insists that regeneration precedes faith. Regeneration precedes faith because it is a necessary condition for faith. Indeed, it is the sine qua non of faith. It is important to understand, however, that the order of salvation refers to a logical order, not necessarily a temporal order. For example, when we say that justification is by faith, we do not mean that faith occurs first, and then we are justified at some later time. We believe that at the very moment faith is present, justification occurs. There is no time lapse between faith and justification. They occur simultaneously. Why then do we say that faith precedes justification? Faith precedes justification in a logical sense, not a temporal sense. Justification is logically dependent on faith, not faith on justification. We do not have faith because we are justified; we are justified because we have faith.

Similarly when Reformed theology says regeneration precedes faith, it is speaking in terms of logical priority, not temporal priority. We cannot exercise saving faith until we have been regenerated, so we say faith is dependent on regeneration, not regeneration on faith. Hodges and all semi-Pelagians argue that regeneration is a result of faith and dependent on it. This assumes that the not-yet-regenerate person can exercise saving faith.


Sproul, R.C. Grace Unknown : The Heart of Reformed Theology. electronic ed., Page 195. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2000, © 1997.


This kind of answer is common in 5PC. Things are reduced to logic and argument, and have no application in the real world of real experience. In the above, we are told that regeneration and faith occur exactly at the same time – as they say do justification and faith. Yet we are told that, "regeneration precedes faith," in the sense that it is dependent upon it. 5PC teachers tell us that the "regeneration precedes faith" dogma is merely a "logical priority," but not a "temporal priority."


What all this really means, I suppose, is that at the precise moment that God regenerates us, we have faith. The point being, that God does the regenerating. Carried with it is the faith. Our faith is carried IN our regeneration – and has nothing to do with getting regenerated. This is why they are able to claim that, yes, both regeneration and faith occur at once. But the faith is totally dependent upon the regeneration.


So what we begin to see here is that when 5PC begins to explain the why’s and how’s of it’s belief system, EVEN THERE words do not mean what they mean. We are told here that the 5PC claim that, "regeneration precedes faith," only means that from a logical point of view, but not from a temporal, or "lived out" point of view. Fine. So now we have two layers of confusion to deal with if we want to believe 5PC: The Bible doesn’t really say what it means, and even the doctrines of 5PC don’t state what they mean. Rather than be a child to understand the Truth God reveals to us, it would appear that you must be an expert in 5PC to understand even the most foundational Truths of salvation itself as revealed by God in His Word.


Here’s the problem: If we accept that, yes, regeneration precedes faith, but that this really means that SIMULTANEOUSLY we are given both regeneration and faith by the sovereign act of God, then what about UNDERSTANDING? In other words, it is one thing to say that God acts upon an unbeliever and births him anew. In is one thing to say that carried with this, and dependent upon it, is the faith necessary to immediately surrender to Christ. But how is this faith exercised without understanding? Does this person whom God has birthed again by election, and in whom God has likewise birthed faith, immediately UNDERSTAND everything he needs to understand to be able to put their faith in Christ?


Do you see what I’m getting at? 5PC says that, "regeneration precedes faith." Upon closer examination, we are told that faith is dependent upon regeneration – that faith is actually carried with the regeneration the person receives when God acts upon him. We are told that the two actually happen at the same time, and thus, it is not really true that you ever could have a "regenerated unbeliever," because the moment the unbeliever is regenerated, he believes. He has also been given the faith. But the question remains as to HOW a newly regenerated person, the moment after he is regenerated, could possibly understand enough to actually believe.


If faith is a choice – a decision to believe – then SOME understanding is necessary. Faith cannot just HAPPEN. Would anyone suggest that it is possible to put one’s faith in Christ and NOT KNOW you are doing it? Do you know of even one Bible example, or teaching, which suggests that anyone is able to be saved, "by grace through faith," without knowing it? Do we know of any cases in the Bible where people were born again and did not know it? Is salvation ever spoken of in the Bible as something which is anything but the outcome of faith in Christ? So we must ask: How does one believe in Christ without SOME understanding of what they are doing?


Faith is a moral choice of surrender to Christ. And despite the fact that it is not necessary to understand theology or much Biblical Truth in order to be saved, you certainly do need to understand what you are doing! You have to understand that you have been wrong with God as a sinner, and through Christ, can be made right. You need to know that Jesus is YOUR SAVIOR, and that you are giving yourself to Him!


But wait. If "regeneration precedes faith," or even if they both happen at once, then does the understanding necessary to put faith in Christ also happen at that very same time? Is there absolutely NO TIME LAPSE? When God acts upon someone to regenerate them, do they immediately understand these Truths, and place their faith in Christ? – all at once? Is this the way it really works?


If this is true – that regeneration, faith, and understanding all happen at once – then there could be no person ever converted that has not had an "all at once" conversion experience. It would mean, for instance, that every heathen person ever converted was completely blind to the Truth of Christ one moment, but in a flash, was regenerated, given faith, given understanding, and put their faith in Christ in the next moment. Again – is that the way it really happens?


Think about it. 5PC might reason that regeneration could happen to us without us knowing it. 5PC could say that later we discover it. 5PC might even reason that along with that regeneration is given to us faith -- without us knowing it. But understanding? That can’t be given to us without us knowing it! By definition, understanding means that I DO KNOW.


So 5PC meets an impasse here. If they say that regeneration and faith are given without understanding, then they must construct a way in which a person believes without understanding what they are believing. But if they cannot do so, then they are admitting that understanding is not immediate, and therefore the faith which is dependent upon it cannot be immediate. Thus, at best, they would have what we saw before: A regenerated person who does not yet believe, because they do not yet understand that they are regenerated, and because they do not yet understand enough to believe.


The alternative for 5PC says is no better. If they say that regeneration and faith are given WITH an understanding which is just as immediate, then they must explain how not everyone testifies to such an experience – which, by definition, could not happen without a person knowing it. Indeed, if understanding is as immediate as regeneration and faith, then every single one of the elect should have had a conversion experience where their mind was void of understanding one moment, but filled with the understanding necessary for faith the next. This is something which could not go unnoticed. It would be overwhelming, to say the least.


The fact is, if there is an even one second time lapse between regeneration, and understanding, then there is a one second time lapse between regeneration and faith – for we cannot believe unless we understand that we ARE believing. And if there is even a one second time lapse between regeneration and faith, then at least for that one second we have a REGENERATED UNBELIEVER. Again – is there such a thing possible?


Yet this is exactly what you would have if 5PC is true. You would have people who are born again – who actually have the faith necessary for salvation – but who don’t even know it. Even if it is for one second. They are saved by their given faith in Christ, but don’t know who Jesus is.


Is it possible to put my faith in Christ without knowing Jesus? Without knowing I am doing it? No. It is not. The Bible tells us that God draws us to see who Christ is and that He is our Savior – while we are YET unbelievers. There is SOME understanding necessary for faith – otherwise no choice is possible. But then once we do understand, we are accountable for surrendering by faith to Christ. If we do, we are THEN saved.


Regeneration does NOT precede faith. Rather, faith precedes regeneration. God reveals to us Jesus Christ and enlightens our understanding just enough for us to be able to believe. Then, if we will, we are saved. This is the Truth, and there is no other given to us for salvation.


A Denial of the Cross


There are other problems. If I am regenerated and born again, before I have faith in Christ, even for a few moments, then I became a NEW CREATURE without ever consciously relinquishing the old life. I became born again without ever knowingly coming to the Cross and surrendering my life as a sinner to Jesus. There was no repentance or surrender. There was no acknowledgement of being a sinner.


5PC is based on the supposition that, in Adam, we are like a corpse – unable to respond to God. Therefore, they conclude, God must take the initiative to act upon us – by first totally regenerating us to newness of life. THEN we can respond to God and believe. But notice how none of this addresses the Cross.


The Bible certainly does teach that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. We cannot initiate our own regeneration. A sinner cannot save himself – cannot do a thing to make himself a saint. But the Bible shows that God will bring the sinner to see he is a sinner – even while he is still a sinner. And God will draw that person to the Cross of Jesus Christ. It is at that point that a sinner has enough light to yield to the Cross. If he does, the old life is relinquished. And God will do the rest – He will regenerate the sinner and make him a saint.


In Christ, there is no life until there is death. There is no new birth, until there is the death of the old life. You get "out of Adam" through the Cross, and "into Christ" through the resurrection. And it MUST be in that order. You and I must – consciously and knowing – come to the Cross and surrender. Then, and only then, can we be regenerated.


5PC says that fallen man is like a corpse. But as true as that may be as to spiritual life, are human beings really that unable to respond to anything of God? Throughout human history, man has been constantly involved in religion. Every culture has it’s gods. Why? If man were completely void of any connection to God, and void of any interest in God, and void of any consciousness of God, then why all the interest in God – even if it is reflected in false gods?


Fallen man still has a will. He still has a brain. He can understand certain things. And while none of this equals spiritual life, and while none of it can, in the least, enable him to initiate his own salvation, or reconciliation to God, it doesn’t need to enable him to do that. God says, "I will draw all men to Myself." God can initiate – God can show a spiritual corpse, while he remains a spiritual corpse, just how much of a spiritual corpse he is. He can bring that corpse we all are to the place where we cry out for deliverance. None of this means we are yet alive. It just means that God has invaded our realm of death with the message of the gospel.


5PC doesn’t have a God who does that. Yet when Jesus conquered death, that is exactly what He made possible.


The central doctrine of the Christian faith is the Cross of Jesus Christ. 5PC jumps over it, and claims that God regenerates us before we even know of the Cross, or of faith, or of anything else. Indeed, 5PC tells us that we are regenerated as born again creatures BEFORE -- and really to the exclusion of -- any acknowledgement of ourselves as sinners. Before coming to the Cross of Jesus Christ.


Can we see that this is a denial of the Cross? It provides a resurrection in Christ without any need to consciously repent and come to the Cross as a sinner. It makes the Cross something God "applies to us" without our knowledge, or consent, rather than something to which we come as sinners – as those who know they need a Savior.


And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, (a type of the Cross) even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:14-15)


5PC would have us say that "everyone who is regenerated to eternal life will eventually come to believe in Him, and will eventually discover that it was the Cross of Christ which was applied to his sin and which crucified his old life."


The Bible also says, "If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away. All things are become new." (II Cor. 5:17) So, if 5PC is true, my "old man of sin" has been destroyed by the Cross – but without me knowing it, believing it, or surrendering my life to Christ. In effect, I have already passed from death to life – all before I believe. And all before I am justified by faith and declared righteous by God.


The fact is, if I am regenerated before I believe, then I am pronounced righteous and justified before I believe. Thus, Calvinists are not really saying, as does the Bible, that we are justified by faith independent of works. They are saying we are justified by election independent of faith!


Again, what we have here is not salvation through faith alone. We have salvation independent of any faith at all. In 5PC, the event of salvation – that instantaneous point at which I am regenerated and become a new creation in Christ Jesus – is accomplished by a sovereign act of God completely independent of faith.


A Way Around This


We have seen that eternal life comes only through the relinquishment of the old life to the Cross -- and that this must be done by faith in Christ.  It requires faith and some understanding of what I am doing.  We have also seen that if regeneration happens before faith, that we end up with is a, "saved unbeliever."  But there is one way in which most of this problem for 5PC can be skirted:  Simply redefine salvation.  Redefine it in a way that fits into the 5PC system, all the while seeming to agree with the Bible.


5PC does redefine salvation.  In the Bible, salvation is LIFE.  It is the life of the resurrected life of Jesus Christ in us.  We have HIS life because we surrendered ourselves to His death.  This life is real, dynamic, and is the ONLY life a Christian has.


But 5PC ignores the fact that salvation is LIFE -- life which comes only through the Cross of Christ.  Instead, it reduces salvation to nothing more than getting your sins forgiven, and being pronounced legally righteous by God through Christ.  The LIFE of Christ in us is essentially replaced by what amounts to a "legal accounting entry" done in heaven on the basis of the Redemption. 


The Westminster Confession of Faith – which was a purely 5PC effort -- openly does this. It openly denies that the righteousness of Christ in INFUSED into us, and limits salvation to only an IMPUTED righteousness.  Translated, this is a denial that we are one with Christ Himself in His death and resurrection, resulting in, "Christ in us."  It limits the Redemption to only it's legal effects:


THOSE whom God effectually calls, he also freely justifies: not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ's sake alone; not by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness, but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on him and his righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves: it is the gift of God. (Point 11.1)


Don’t misunderstand. There is a legal aspect of the Redemption, in which the death of Christ paid for our sins, and where His righteous life is imputed to our account. This is the great doctrine of, "justification by faith."  But if that is ALL salvation is, then WE are not changed.  Just legally imputed, or reclassified.  The Bible reveals more -- that we are indeed INFUSED into Christ -- planted into His death and resurrection.  (Read Romans 6)  He is the Vine, and we are the branches.


Salvation includes imputed righteousness. But salvation is also INFUSED righteousness. Otherwise, we have no union with Christ. Christ is not in us. WE HAVE NO LIFE.  We have not been raised with Him. There is NO power over sin, no deliverance from sin, and no Vine of which we are the branches. Yet this is exactly the kind of Christianity you end up with in 5PC.


Now, the whole point is this:  Once salvation is merely legal, and not living -- imputation only, and not infusion -- then you can say that the sinner does not need to come to the Cross to be saved.  You no longer need death before life.  You no longer need conscious repentance and a conscious surrender of faith to the Cross.  Rather, you can say that God simply APPLIES the Cross to the sinner, without the sinner knowing it.  The sinner then finds out about it later -- finds out he has been imputed with a legal righteousness.  You can therefore preserve the doctrine of regeneration preceding faith, because regeneration has now been redefined as the product of a legal imputation, rather than a living infusion into Christ Himself.


Many who believe and teach 5PC rightly say that God IMPUTES to our account everything Christ has done. But that is often where they stop.  They say that this is the new birth, and  is regeneration. But it isn't.  You cannot get a new creation in Christ by doing an accounting entry.  You have to have the death of the old life through the Cross, and LIFE infused into through his oneness with Christ in the resurrection.


Do you see the importance of understanding what salvation really is? If salvation, from start to finish, is nothing more than a new legal classification, from being a sinner to being righteous, then technically, God could save me solely by His election. In that case I could be "legally classified" as "saved," completely independent of my knowledge, choosing, or faith. I could later come to embrace it. But if salvation is LIFE – in other words, if salvation is "Christ in me" as the Bible says (Col. 1:27) – then this is impossible. For I cannot be born a new creature in Christ without first coming to the Cross -- and I cannot come to the Cross without knowing it.  


There is no new life through the resurrection of Christ unless there is first a conscious relinquishment of the old life by faith.  This is repentance and this is confession.  Always do these come BEFORE salvation.   Life always comes from death.  Always.  Any other suggestion is not Biblical -- therefore, the entire Redemption structure of 5PC is error.


Can we see where 5PC really takes us?  Few who say they believe 5PC ever think through what they are agreeing with to what it says about the Redemption.  Do that, and you find that the more you progress in 5PC, the further you drift off course from the Truth of Jesus Christ.




Justification, which means to be made righteous, is an instantaneous, one-time act, by which God takes everything Christ has done and imputes it to me. This IS legal. It was the central Truth of the reformation, and 5PC rightly represents it.


Sanctification, on the other hand, is not instantaneous as a practical, lived-out, reality.  Sanctification is the manifestation, through my character, attitude, and works, of the righteousness of Jesus Christ.  In effect, I am justified in a second.  But I will spend the rest of my life manifesting the fact that I have been "made righteous" -- which is what justification is.


But how is this possible if there is not LIFE in me?  But only a "new legal classification" registered in heaven?


It isn't possible.  To LIVE a sanctified life, I have to have a sanctified LIFE within.  


The fact is, when God justifies me legally, He is right in doing so because at salvation He is infusing me into the life of His Son.  He is able to declare me righteous because the life of His Son in me IS righteous.  It will take a lifetime for me to live it out.  But it is so.  


 But too often we try to categorize living Truths, and thus, make them into dead doctrines.  Can we see that sanctification is nothing more than the working out in our living of what God has given us through the new birth?  In effect, sanctification is a working out of our justification.  But this is NOT possible unless there is an infused and living righteousness IN ME which can be worked and lived out!


All of this, once again, goes back to the fact that salvation is LIFE -- it is the life of Jesus Christ in us.  Salvation CANNOT be real unless it is the life of Christ in us. Thus, it CANNOT be limited to an imputed righteousness. It is a living righteousness, because the life of Christ in us is alive, not dead.


Once again we read:


And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Cor 1:28-31)


Regeneration, and the new birth, is Christ in us. And if Christ is in us, righteousness is in us. That is why God is able to rightly and legally declare us righteous. This does not mean we will always live like it. We will spend the rest of our lives living out the righteousness which God has implanted within. This is sanctification.


So -- 5PC has no escape from this conclusion: Regeneration IS life. It is the life of Christ within us. There simply isn’t any other kind of regeneration. Thus, regeneration cannot precede faith, otherwise, we would have REGENERATED UNBELIEVERS. The only people in the Bible who are regenerated are those who first put their faith in Christ Jesus.


Faith Precedes Regeneration


It is not difficult to find passages in the Bible which clearly state that faith precedes regeneration. How could it be difficult to find them? This is a cardinal Truth of Christianity.


Read the following passages in an attempt to discover whether "salvation precedes faith," as 5PC states, or whether, "faith must precede salvation."


That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom you also trusted, after that you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise. (Eph 1:12-13)


The order here is clearly: Hearing the Word of Truth, believing, and then being sealed. We see no evidence that faith precedes the sealing or regeneration by the Holy Spirit. This is repeated by Paul in his epistle to the Romans:


So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Rom 10:17)


5PC would say, "So then faith comes by regeneration." The Bible says it is the result of hearing – opening oneself -- to the Truth.


Other passages:


Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:37-38)


They asked Peter what they ought to do. Peter didn’t reply, "Nothing. You are either of the elect or you are not." Rather, Peter clearly states that regeneration by the Holy Spirit is the outcome of repentance and faith in Christ. Reading Peter’s answer, does it sound like he knew about "election?" Does it sound as if "regeneration preceded faith" in the mind of Peter?


For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Rom 10:13)


If 5PC were right, this verse should read, "For all who are saved shall call on the name of the Lord." Clearly, faith in this verse results in regeneration, rather than is the outcome of it.


Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31)


We would be hard pressed to find a more clear question and answer stating the correct ORDER of faith preceding salvation. Again, if 5PC were true, this answer is incorrect. For, in that case, salvation precedes faith. Peter would have had to answer, "Hope you are one of the elect, and then you can believe."


But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)


To whom did God give "power to become the sons of God?" John says, "As many as received him – even to them that believe on His name." And THEN, John says, they are born of the will of God. It is nonsense to read this verse any other way.


For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Cor 1:21)


God saves "them that believe." He doesn’t "cause to believe" those He has already saved through election.


But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. (Gal 3:22)


The promise is given to them that believe. 5PC would tell us that the promise is given by election, and then the result is that we believe.


But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Heb 10:39)


Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (1 Pet 1:9)


Both these verses show that salvation is the result or outcome of faith. 5PC says that faith is the outcome of salvation or regeneration.


That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10)


What could be more clear? Are we to take this simple passage of Truth, and make it mean, "You will confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and will believe in your heart, IF you are already saved by election."?


Of course, 5PC has had 500 years to get answers in order for each and everyone of these passages, and the objections which are raised against it. But ask: Is the Bible really so hard to understand that we cannot read some of these fundamental passages about simple salvation, and not be able to see the Truth, unless we have some 5PC handbook beside it for interpretation? Yet this is exactly what you need to read the Bible if you want to believe 5PC. You must twist hundreds of passages so they fit into the theological construct of 5PC, and so that they no longer say what they say. On the other hand, there are only a few passages in the Bible, which seem to verify 5PC – but don’t – which are easily explained in the light of these other clear passages.


One of the cornerstones of the gospel of Jesus Christ is that IF you believe, you will be saved. This is a Truth which cannot be denied, and yet IS denied by this "other gospel," the gospel of 5 Point Calvinism.*


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