Born again to believe!

Dear friends,

I think it is important to know that grace believers are not people who believe in every wind of doctrine. Below is an article from a leading theologian who is an authority on John Calvin’s teaching. The reason I believe in Radical Grace is due to this man. He is the first one who taught me that I am born again to have faith to believe in Jesus. That is called Irresistible Grace by Calvin.

We must understand we were dead in our sins. Dead people do not have faith. They have nothing and they response to nothing. God in his rich mercy made us alive first then imparted faith for us as a gift. Note Ephesians tells us we are saved by grace through faith. It is THE gift from God. Grace and faith is the gift. No, the English is not wrong. It just means Grace and Faith are both one gift. You cannot separate Grace from Faith. This is because the faith that allows you to believe in Jesus comes not from you but from God. It is a gift from God. It is THE gift from God. It the ultimate gift. THAT IS WHY THERE IS NO ROOM TO BOAST.

Since we could not have done anything to save ourselves, how then can anything we do that makes us lose our salvation? That is why I believe the Radical Grace message. It tells me that this Faith has nothing to do with what you have to do. It has nothing to do with the 10 commandments. It has nothing to do with the law of Moses. In fact it has even nothing to do with the Old Covenant.

I am a Gentile. To say that we were under the Old Covenant is not correct. The Old Covenant is made between the Jews and the Gentiles. As such I am not included in that covenant. I am Gentile. Romans chapter 1 tells me I am under the law of conscience.

Further I think that many Christians unfortunately think that by obeying the Law will curry favour with God for you. This is what Paul says “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin. (Romans 3:20) ”

Rather Paul tells us in Romans 3:21 of something the Law can never give you. Righteousness! Are you shocked? Let’s look at the verse “But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in[h] Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile.” The word “apart” means totally independent. This means this righteousness has nothing to do with the Law. This is the righteousness that Jesus told us to seek after in Matthew 6:33. Not the righteousness from the Law but God’s personal righteousness. It God’s righteousness. It is the righteousness that God credited to Abraham. It is a gift.

That is why I believe that the Law of Moses is abolished when Jesus died. Ephesians 2:15 tells us that. This is because now as a Gentile I get to inherit what was promised to the Jews. Not through the commandments of Moses but by having faith in Jesus. If the Law is around then the Jew and the Gentile can never be together. Remember Peter had been reluctant to enter Cornelius house!

Note that in the NIV that there is a footnote marked [h]. The footnote reads: “Or through the faithfulness of”. The King James Version is more accurate, we not saved by our faith in Jesus. Notice what is says “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe”. It says we are saved by the FAITH OF JESUS!

As such I am not saved by my faith in Jesus, but Jesus faith in me. I am saved because of Jesus’ faith. Faith not even in the Son of God but faith of the Son of God. He has complete faith in His Father. It is that faith that saved Him. This is THE faith that God gives to me as a gift. The faith of His Son. Enjoy the article!

Regeneration Precedes Faith
By R. C. Sproul

One of the most dramatic moments in my life for the shaping of my theology took place in a seminary classroom. One of my professors went to the blackboard and wrote these words in bold letters: “Regeneration Precedes Faith.”

These words were a shock to my system. I had entered seminary believing that the key work of man to effect rebirth was faith. I thought that we first had to believe in Christ in order to be born again. I use the words in order here for a reason. I was thinking in terms of steps that must be taken in a certain sequence. I had put faith at the beginning. The order looked something like this:

“Faith – rebirth -justification.”

I hadn’t thought that matter through very carefully. Nor had I listened carefully to Jesus’ words to Nicodemus. I assumed that even though I was a sinner, a person born of the flesh and living in the flesh, I still had a little island of righteousness, a tiny deposit of spiritual power left within my soul to enable me to respond to the Gospel on my own. Perhaps I had been confused by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Rome, and many other branches of Christendom, had taught that regeneration is gracious; it cannot happen apart from the help of God.

No man has the power to raise himself from spiritual death. Divine assistance is necessary. This grace, according to Rome, comes in the form of what is called prevenient grace. “Prevenient” means that which comes from something else. Rome adds to this prevenient grace the requirement that we must “cooperate with it and assent to it” before it can take hold in our hearts.

This concept of cooperation is at best a half-truth. Yes, the faith we exercise is our faith. God does not do the believing for us. When I respond to Christ, it is my response, my faith, my trust that is being exercised. The issue, however, goes deeper. The question still remains: “Do I cooperate with God’s grace before I am born again, or does the cooperation occur after?” Another way of asking this question is to ask if regeneration is monergistic or synergistic. Is it operative or cooperative? Is it effectual or dependent? Some of these words are theological terms that require further explanation.

A monergistic work is a work produced singly, by one person. The prefix mono means one. The word erg refers to a unit of work. Words like energy are built upon this root. A synergistic work is one that involves cooperation between two or more persons or things. The prefix syn –
means “together with.” I labor this distinction for a reason. The debate between Rome and Luther hung on this single point.

At issue was this: Is regeneration a monergistic work of God or a synergistic work that requires cooperation between man and God? When my professor wrote “Regeneration precedes faith” on the blackboard, he was clearly siding with the monergistic answer. After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone.

The reason we do not cooperate with regenerating grace before it acts upon us and in us is because we can- NOT. 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 for the dead.

When I began to wrestle with the Professor’s argument, I was surprised to learn that his strange-sounding teaching was not novel. Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield – even the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas taught this doctrine. Thomas Aquinas is the Doctor Angelicus of the Roman Catholic Church. For centuries his theological teaching was accepted as official dogma by most Catholics. So he was the last person I expected to hold such a view of regeneration. Yet Aquinas insisted that regenerating grace is operative grace, not cooperative grace. Aquinas spoke of prevenient grace, but he spoke of a grace that comes before faith, which is regeneration.

These giants of Christian history derived their view from Holy Scripture. The key phrase in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians is this: “…even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace have you been saved)” (Eph. 2:5). Here Paul locates the time when regeneration occurs. It takes place ‘when we were dead.’ With one thunderbolt of apostolic revelation all attempts to give the initiative in regeneration to man are smashed. Again, dead men do not cooperate with grace. Unless regeneration takes place first, there is no possibility of faith.

This says nothing different from what Jesus said to Nicodemus. Unless a man is born again first, he cannot possibly see or enter the kingdom of God. If we believe that faith precedes regeneration, then we set our thinking and therefore ourselves in direct opposition not only to giants of Christian history but also to the teaching of Paul and of our Lord Himself.

(from the book, The Mystery of the Holy Spirit, Tyndale House, 1990)

We have an incredible God don’t we? That is why I believe in once saved always saved. It is not our faith in Him. My salvation is not base on my faith. It is based on Jesus’ faith. Glory to Him and Him alone.

By His Grace,

Simon Yap.