Reformed Baptist Fellowship

The Order of Salvation

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on March 1, 2012 at 4:14 pm

  1. Unbelievers with unregenerate hearts responding in faith? Hmm…

  2. Thomas, actually “faith” is portrayed at the level of “effectual calling” as the *consequent response* which actually doesn’t transpire until “conversion” which in turn follows “regeneration” in the scheme illustrated above.

  3. Calvin, I think would dispute the order: “hence Paul so highly commends the ministry of the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:6), since teachers would cry aloud to no purpose, did not Christ, the internal teacher, by means of his Spirit, draw to himself those who are given him of the Father. Therefore, as we have said that salvation is perfected in the person of Christ, so, in order to make us partakers of it, he baptizes us “with the Holy Spirit and with fire,” (Luke 3:16), enlightening us into the faith of his Gospel, and so regenerating us to be new creatures. Thus cleansed from all pollution, he dedicates us as holy temples to the Lord.”

    Further he says: “Since, as has been said, we must be led by the Spirit, and thus stimulated to seek Christ…”

    The order according to Calvin is the Spirit’s work in drawing to the word preached. Which cannot occur in those who have not been regenerated. The Spirit’s means is not the word, but his direct work of making a new man. “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” Plainly, the work of regeneration comes before the external word can draw, and that is because the inward call is already drawing those who are of God to the word. The external word cannot summon anyone. In fact Paul declares that is it considered foolishness and an offense.

    Seeing that it is only those who have eyes to see and ears to hear who see and hear and understand what they see and hear, no one is drawn who has not these faculties regenerated, already resident in them. Regeneration comes before the outward calling. Effectual calling is an encompassing term which includes, regeneration, the inward call, and conversion, and is often confused with the outward because of the secret workings of the Holy Spirit. The outward call accomplishes nothing. It cannot draw, it cannot summon, for the hearers except that they have already been regenerated and have had their minds made fit cannot receive the light. Such that, Scripture explains, the very Son of God who was the light did not draw but was a revulsion to those who were not regenerate such that they sought to kill him. So then, those who are called are those who have been born of God. And that calling logically, and temporally must follow regeneration. Now many view it as simultanous. I have no problem with that if what is meant that what appears in conversion is the basis for such conclusions.

    Calvins definition of faith is deep. And when he says the Spirit enlightens us into the faith of the Gospel he is speaking of the power of God in regeneration, which he believed must precede the reception of the external word. It is the Spirit within which enlightens the word without. Which is, as Paul instructed, necessary, for He has given us the Spirit that we may receive the things freely given us. We understand it because as regenerated we are not of the sons of man who cannot comprehend, but have been made partakers of the Spirit that we can as such are declared to be born of God. The natural man without the Spirit cannot be drawn. Indeed, he hates the light because his works (his nature) are evil. God does not impart his Spirit to those who have been called, but imparts his Spirit so that men are enabled to be called. At least, that is what Calvin taught, and what Scripture teaches.

  4. Some more from Calvin: “But as Paul argues, “What man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God,” (1 Cor. 2:11). If in regard to divine truth we hesitate even as to those things which we see with the bodily eye, how can we be firm and steadfast in regard to those divine promises which neither the eye sees nor the mind comprehends? Here human discernment is so defective and lost, that the first step of advancement in the school of Christ is to renounce it (Mt. 11:25; Luke 10:21). Like a veil interposed, it prevents us from beholding divine mysteries, which are revealed only to babes. “Flesh and blood” does not reveal them (Mt. 16:17). “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned,” (I Cor. 2:14). The supplies of the Holy Spirit are therefore necessary, or rather his agency is here the only strength. “For who has known the mind of the Lord? or who has been his counselor?” (Rom. 11:34); but “The Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God,” (1 Cor. 2:10). Thus it is that we attain to the mind of Christ: “No man can come to me, except the Father which has sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” “Every man therefore that has heard, and learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man has seen the Father, save he which is of God, he has seen the Father,” (John 6:44, 45, 46). Therefore, as we cannot possibly come to Christ unless drawn by the Spirit, so when we are drawn we are both in mind and spirit exalted far above our own understanding. For the soul, when illumined by him, receives as it were a new eye, enabling it to contemplate heavenly mysteries, by the splendor of which it was previously dazzled. And thus, indeed, it is only when the human intellect is irradiated by the light of the Holy Spirit that it begins to have a taste of those things which pertain to the kingdom of God; previously it was too stupid and senseless to have any relish for them. Hence our Savior, when clearly declaring the mysteries of the kingdom to the two disciples, makes no impression till he opens their minds to understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:27, 45). Hence also, though he had taught the Apostles with his own divine lips, it was still necessary to send the Spirit of truth to instill into their minds the same doctrine which they had heard with their ears. The word is, in regard to those to whom it is preached, like the sun which shines upon all, but is of no use to the blind. In this matter we are all naturally blind; and hence the word cannot penetrate our mind unless the Spirit, that internal teacher, by his enlightening power make an entrance for it.”

    Especially noting the final sentence. It requires regeneration by the Spirit, i.e., the Father’s drawing which is secret, prior to the entrance of the word of God. Or in terms of the soils, it requires a new nature for the seed to be planted in or it will not bear fruit. A new eye must precede, that is, as Calvin, Paul, and Jesus, make clear, the necessity of regeneration preceding the entrance of the word. No man understands without being born again, and since the understanding is beyond words, that is, it is union with the knowledge, a feat beyond the naturally capabilities, it requires a prior supernatural work of God so that man is not born from the things which are seen or heard, not of the earth, but are born from above, John 17. No man without the Spirit receives the word, and no man who is not regenerate has the Spirit of God. It is not the word that is active in regeneration, but the Eternal Word which through the Spirit is given to the elect so that we might understand and embrace, resting in full assurance of the promises contained in the word. Such that it is, it is only those who have been taught of the Father. And this is not by words which are uttered by men. For as Jesus said, the reason that the Jews did not believe his words was because they haven’t been instructed by the Father. That instruction is prior to the external call. The external call can only be embraced if by the Spirit the heart is renewed. Logically and temporally, regeneration precedes the external manifestations of conversion. If we speak of an internal, effectual calling, it is one done in secret, without words. The preaching of the Gospel and the conversion of men by it merely confirms what is already by the Spirit.

    So, no. God does not impart life to those who have been called. The impartation of life is the call. We are first called to life before we are called into the light. Or as Calvin notes, the sun might give warmth but it cannot lead the blind.

  5. I’m trying to remember which reformed systematic theology refers to Sanctification as being “a work of God AND man”.

    Hmmm,…I’m drawing a blank.

    LBC Ch. 13.1, “They who are united to Christ, effectually called, and regenerated, having a new heart and a new spirit created in them through the virtue of Christ’s death and resurrection, are also farther sanctified, really and personally, through the same virtue, by His Word and Spirit dwelling in them; the dominion of the whole body of sin is destroyed, and the several lusts thereof are more and more weakened and mortified, and they more and more quickened and strengthened in all saving graces, to the practice of all true holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”

    Spurgeon’s Catechism A 34, “A Sanctification is the work of God’s Spirit whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God and are enabled more and more to die to sin, and live to righteousness.

    WCF Catechism A 75, “Sanctification is a work of God’s grace, whereby they whom God has, before the foundation of the world, chosen to be holy, are in time, through the powerful operation of his Spirit applying the death and resurrection of Christ unto them, renewed in their whole man after the image of God; having the seeds of repentance unto life, and all other saving graces, put into their hearts, and those graces so stirred up, increased, and strengthened, as that they more and more die unto sin, and rise unto newness of life.”

    “By virtue of His Word and Spirit dwelling in them”, “a work of God’s Spirit”, “a work of God’s grace” – doesn’t sound at all like the Challies’ synergistic “work of God and man”.

    Sure, we cooperate with His Spirit working in us, but it is “HIM who works in us, both to will and to do of His good pleasure”.

  6. I agree with you AJ. It is a slide backwards. As you rightly state man cooperates but it is not in the sense of cooperation that the Arminian or other synergists think. The cooperation that most Reformed writers I have read speak of is instrumental cooperation. That is, as the WCF speaks of, it takes an actual action of the Holy Spirit to move man. And sure enough man moves. But he only does so as He is working in us. He is the potter, we are the clay. It is a mystery indeed that we are commanded to do and so must in a way “fake it.” I find this principle, that what I would do I cannot. Though the law commands, I am unable. All things done by us, that is our flesh, are not done by faith and so are only bodily exercise that profits little. It, like a flower is beautiful for a time but fades.For what is not done by faith is sin and the wages of sin is death. Referring again to Calvin, the very understanding of the commandment must be by the work of the HS, but more than that, accordingly, faith is more than what we do, rather it is he who works all things in all, even the receiving of the command. Such that, though we receive what is freely given, Scripture speaks of faith receiving. Faith is not a thing but a person. Or, as John Owen has remarked, faith is the very conveyance of the HS. Again, faith is seen in Hebrews not as intellectual assent alone, not as mere knowledge, not even as dependence and rest- none of this alone- but the very thing, the hupostasis, of what is hoped for, the promise of Jesus that he would be in us til the end. We don’t even remember what he has said, or pray on our own, but the Spirit brings to our rememberance and helps us pray in ways we can’t rightly understand by our own reckoning. Back to Calvin, the indwelling of Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Christ for a reason. And as Paul connects the dots, it was not he who worked, but Christ. Our job, if we are willing to accept it, is to reckon ourselves dead having died with Christ on the Cross, so that he might be resurrected in us. And if we have died with him, he will surely give life to our mortal bodies. We remain animated by the Holy Spirit, when the fact is we have been killed in Christ. If we remain alive and active in our sanctification as more than an instrument we deny the supremacy of Christ in our sanctification, for he did not die just for our salvation, but also for our sanctification that he might fill all and and be in all, our hope of glory. If we speak of our sanctification as something we are first active in or even active in such a way that without us God cannot sanctify us, we have denied the resurrection of Christ. As you mentioned, it is he who wills and works. And thank God for that, for he alone is the righteous creator, otherwise it would be the clay telling the potter what to make.

    When I read that what follows is a classical representation of what Reformers taught, I wondered just what classical Reformers. As far as I have read there are many different ordo schema historically because it is such a mysterious work. But there are some things which we can glean so as to rule out errors and hopefully form a better if not complete understanding.

  7. So you need to repent of your sins in order to be forgiven? You need to work and stop sinning to get a free gift?
    And about regeneration, doesn’t ephesians 1:12-14 that were seal with the spirit after we believed? Or the promise of the holy spirit offered after repentance in acts 2:38?
    Oh hold on this teaches that the order is not in sequence. Isn’t that a contradiction.
    Sorry chumps but God is not the author of confusion!

  8. I like Calvin, quoted above.

    Calvinists don’t like me, though … strange!

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