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 Regeneration: Forced or Voluntary?

[b]Regeneration: [/b]

- Is regeneration “gracious ability” or obedience to “gracious illumination”?

- Is regeneration forced or voluntary; is it by causation or by influence?

- Is regeneration the reception of a new faculty or the proper use of an existing faculty?

[b]WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY?[/b]

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is [b]profitable for doctrine[/b], for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness.” 2Tim 3:16

I propose that the bible nowhere says that regeneration consist in the reception of a new faculty, (freewill) neither in the healing of a broken faculty, (freewill), but regeneration is synonymous with conversion – cleansing – washing – renewing, which is the proper usage of the already existing freewill, which proper use the Spirit of God brings about, not by force or causation, but by the influence of the truth upon the mind of man, and when the will yields to, submits to, and obeys, the revelation of the Spirit perceived by the mind, then a sinner is regenerated/converted.




[u][b]1.[/b][/u] Regeneration by the Holy Ghost through the means of Revelation:

“And ye shall [b][u]know[/u] the truth[/b], and the truth shall make you [b]free[/b].” John 8:32

“Who will have all men to be [b]saved[/b], and to come unto the [b][u]knowledge[/u] of the truth[/b].” 1Tim 2:4

“And be [b]renewed[/b] in the Spirit of your [b]mind[/b].” Eph 4:23

“And have put on the new man, which is [b]renewed in knowledge [/b]after the image of him that created him.” Col 3:10

“According to his mercy he saved us, by the [b]washing of regeneration[/b], and the [b]renewing of the Holy Ghost[/b]” Titus 3:5

“[b]Grace and peace[/b] be multiplied unto you through the [b]knowledge[/b] of God, and of Jesus our Lord.” 2Peter 1:2




[u][b]2. [/b][/u]Because regeneration, or conversion, is brought about by the influential means of the illumination or enlightening of the Holy Ghost, who reveals truth to man’s mind which man’s freewill ought to submit to, the Spirit is striving with all men, convicting (or convincing) their mind of the truth, bringing to their attention afresh the truth which their own reason and conscience cannot deny:

“And when he is come, he will [b]reprove[/b] the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.” John 16:8




[u][b]3. [/b][/u]In evangelism, seeking the regeneration/conversion of sinners, we are to work hand in hand with the Holy Ghost in a synergetic relationship for the salvation of others:

“I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.” 1Cor 3:6

“For we are [b]laborers together with God[/b]: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” 1Cor 3:9




[u][b]4.[/b][/u] In such a synergetic relationship, we are to preach sin, self-control, and judgment to come, teaching all of the commandments of God, as the Spirit convicts of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come:

“Go ye therefore, and [b]teach[/b] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [b]teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you[/b].” Matthew 28:19-20

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days [b]reasoned[/b] with them out of the Scriptures.” Acts 17:2

“And he [b]reasoned[/b] in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.” Acts 18:4

“And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and [b]reasoned[/b] with the Jews.” Acts 18:19

“And as he [b]reasoned[/b] of righteousness, temperarance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled.” Acts 24:25




[u][b]5.[/b][/u] This regeneration by revelation is a gracious act of God, so regeneration occurs always and only with “gracious illumination”. Regeneration is not the impartation of “Gracious ability”, for freewill already exists in all moral agents, but rather regeneration is the conversion of the heart brought about by “gracious illumination”:

“For the [b]grace[/b] of God that [b]bringeth salvation [/b]hath appeared to all men, [b]teaching us [/b]that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” Titus 2:11-12




[u][b]6. [/b][/u]The sin-servant hood of sinners is not the absence of freewill, but is a voluntary yielding of freewill to their own selfish desires, so sinners are willful servants of sin. Willfulness precedes the servant hood, (for what a man obeys a man is serving, obeying = serving), so that the willfulness causes sin as opposed to the servant hood causing sin.

“Jesus answered them, verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever [b]commits sin [/b]is the [b]servant of sin[/b].” John 8:34

“Know ye not, that to [b]whom [u]you yield [/u]yourselves servants to obey[/b], his [b]servant you are to [u]whom you obey[/u][/b]; weather of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” Rom 6:16




[u][b]7.[/b][/u] Sinners are also in the bondage of willful self deception, of voluntary ignorance, and therefore must be freed by the knowledge of the truth (the truth shall set you free):

“Because that, when [b]they [i]knew[/i] God[/b], they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but [b]became vain in their imaginations[/b], and their [b]foolish heart was darkened[/b].” Rom 1:21

“Having the [b]understanding darkened[/b], being alienated from the life of God through the [b]ignorance[/b] that is in them, because of the [b]blindness of their heart[/b].” Eph 4:18

“Unto them that are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their [b]mind and conscience is defiled[/b].” Titus 1:15




[u][b]8. [/b][/u]The Holy Spirit uses the means of revelation to bring about regeneration/conversion, and those who obey the revelation of the Spirit, out of their freewill, are thereby regenerated/converted,

“But God be thanked, that you were the servants of sin, but ye have [b]obeyed from the heart [/b]that form of [b]doctrine [/b]which was delivered unto you.” Romans 6:17

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always [b]obeyed[/b], not as in presence only, but now much more in my absence, [b]work out your own salvation[/b] with fear and trembling.” Php 2:12




[u][b]9.[/b][/u] But those who obey not the gospel are condemned.

“But unto them that are contentious, and [b]do not obey the truth[/b], but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath.” Romans 2:8

“But they have not all [b]obeyed the gospel[/b]. For Isaiah said, Lord, who has believed our report?” Romans 10:16

“O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should [b]not obey the truth[/b]” Gal 3:1

“You did run well; who did hinder you that you should [b]not obey the truth[/b]?” Gal 5:7

“In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that [b]obey not the gospel [/b]of our Lord Jesus Christ” 2Thes 1:8

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if the first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that [b]obey not the gospel of God[/b]?” 1Pet 4:17




And so regeneration/conversion is never a forced change, but is always a voluntary change, which in essence consists in the cleansing of the heart - in a changing of the inner man – which is a radical change of man’s freewill from evil to righteousness.

The Spirit of God regenerates men, not by force of causation, not by giving them some new faculty or repairing an old one, but the Spirit of God regenerates men by illuminating their minds, convicting their hearts, and thus influencing their wills to voluntarily be converted unto God.

 2007/7/6 4:56
CJaKfOrEsT
Member



Joined: 2004/3/31
Posts: 901
Melbourne, Australia

 Re: Regeneration: Forced or Voluntary?

Jesse,

Why "Forced or Voluntary" and not "Inevitable or Optional"? The former implies [b]an accusation cruelty to a God who forces Himself on another[/b] vs [b]the freedom to choose our own way[/b], while the latter [b]points to a God who chooses[/b] vs [b]freedom to choose our own way[/b]. The former shames God and deifies man, while the latter glorifies God and shames man.

If the former were true, the I can see why your reject all notion of predestination, as it presents the Sovereignity of God as dictatorial, rather than loving.

My two cents...


_________________
Aaron Ireland

 2007/7/6 5:17Profile









 Re:

If God wants everyone to be saved, and regeneration/conversion is inevitable, why isn't everyone regenerated/converted?

The whole idea of an unavoidable salvation seems to leave room for either:

1. A God who doesn't love everyone, but makes the salvation of some unavoidable and the condemnation of others unavoidable

2. A God who loves everyone and therefore makes the salvation of everyone unavoidable - Universalism

To escape both of those traps, I wrote the original post.

 2007/7/6 6:14
intrcssr83
Member



Joined: 2005/10/28
Posts: 246
Logan City, Queensland, Australia

 Re: Regeneration: Forced or Voluntary?

Quote:
And so regeneration/conversion is never a forced change, but is always a voluntary change, which in essence consists in the cleansing of the heart - in a changing of the inner man – which is a radical change of man’s freewill from evil to righteousness.

The Spirit of God regenerates men, not by force of causation, not by giving them some new faculty or repairing an old one, but the Spirit of God regenerates men by illuminating their minds, convicting their hearts, and thus influencing their wills to voluntarily be converted unto God.



If regeneration allows someone to know, experience and testify of God's reality when he has no voluntary means of doing so in the first place, what reason then should there be for a regenerate man to reject the gospel if the spirit of God has truly convicted him of the gravity behind it's concern?


_________________
Benjamin Valentine

 2007/7/6 9:31Profile
InTheLight
Member



Joined: 2003/7/31
Posts: 2740
Phoenix, Arizona USA

 Re: Regeneration: Forced or Voluntary?

Quote:
I propose that the bible nowhere says that regeneration consist in the reception of a new faculty, (freewill) neither in the healing of a broken faculty, (freewill), but regeneration is synonymous with conversion – cleansing – washing – renewing, which is the proper usage of the already existing freewill, which proper use the Spirit of God brings about, not by force or causation, but by the influence of the truth upon the mind of man, and when the will yields to, submits to, and obeys, the revelation of the Spirit perceived by the mind, then a sinner is regenerated/converted.



I don't believe that conversion is synonomous with regenereation. Conversion involves the opening of mens eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light. It is man coming to see his utter need. Before God can regenerate a man he has to open his eyes to see his own corrupted heredity and that at the Cross Jesus provided the way for me to partake of His heredity. Then we can begin to understand what Jesus is talking about when He says we must be holy. Conversion is argeement with God's verdict on sin at the Cross.

Regeneration is receiving something from God, a precious gift, and we do need to be conscious of our need for this hence our eyes must be opened. The man who has been born again knows it because he has received a gift from God and not because of his own decision.

It is possible for eyes to be opened and yet not recieve anything. I think this is the case for many in Christendom today. Many sign decision cards in churches but nothing has been recieved from God.

[i]To [b]open their eyes[/b], and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, [b]that they may receive[/b] forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.[/i](Act 26:18)


In Christ,

Ron


_________________
Ron Halverson

 2007/7/6 11:17Profile
roaringlamb
Member



Joined: 2003/6/11
Posts: 1519
Santa Cruz California

 Re:

The new birth is not synergistic at all. God does not need man to cooperate with Him to give the new birth, for it is like the wind, it happens where it will. Can man manufacture wind? Neither can he manufacture the new birth.

What is important in this discussion is to remember that God in no way forces anyone into regeneration. The Spirit of God changes the desires of the will/heart and suddenly the gospel seems logical, Christ is who He says He is, sin is what the Bible says it is, and this happens without any work of man.

In saying that because God loves people, He must save everyone, or give everyone a chance to be saved, one need but only look at the OT to see that many were outside of Israel, and far from the salvation they experienced. We cannot come to this discussion with humanistic ideologies of who or what God is. The facts are pretty straight forward, if God wanted all men everywhere to be saved, they would be, end of story.

God is the Creator, and as such He has absolute authority of His creation. He alone gives the new birth which allows faith. Consider the following verses-

John 1:12 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:[i] Now note what John says next about these ones mentioned above[/i]
John 1:13 Which were [b]born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. [/b]

And again,
Romans 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Romans 9:16 So then [b]it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.[/b]
Romans 9:17 For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. [i]Before anyone says, "but Pharaoh hardened his heart first", I suggest reading Exodus 7 and seeing what God says[/i]
Romans 9:18 [b]Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.[/b]

Now this is speaking of election, and some would argue that it is only speaking of elect nations, but then again, what are nations made of? People of course, and either way you are stuck with some people being elected, and others not being elected.

The Holy Spirit through Paul understands that man will not like this at all, and then poses the question-
Romans 9:19 Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?

Or, how can this be fair, how can God find fault if He alone elects those who are saved, and those who are not? How can God punish those who are only acting according to how He has ordained? Then comes the answer, which completely puts man back in his place, and God in His.
Romans 9:20 Nay but, O man, [b]who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Romans 9:21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?[/b]

The synergisitc approach Jesse is putting forth, is nothing more than the Pelagian heresy of the by gone days. Man is dead and needs life, not just a little guidance to get onto the right path, or enough evidence to convince him he is wrong. Man needs life.

Now consider also would man come to God on his own volition if he could? If so, why don't all come then, it seems logical does it not that if men were a rational creature able to discern what is best for himself, he would choose life.

Sadly we know that unless God intervenes, man will be content to remain in death and sin, and no amount of preaching or bible reading will help that man, but only add to his condemnation as he has rejected much more light than others have.

Consider when Christ told the Pharisees, "search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have life. But they testify of me, and you will not come to me that you may have life." Of course we must compare Scripture with Scripture and ask, how does one come to Christ?

John 6:44 [b]No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him:[/b] and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:45 It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. [b]Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.[/b]

John 6:64 [b]But there are some of you that believe not.[/b] For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
John 6:65 And he said, [b]Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.[/b]

The new birth is not something that man cooperates with, or manipulates. Thus in Scripture this work is referred to as the new birth, the new creation, and other phrases that show that man cannot do this.

How much involvement did you have in your natural birth? Did you get to choose your parents, or did God sovereignly choose them for you(for better or worse:-) )

This is a key doctrine to everything in the Christian walk. For if I must cooperate with God to be born, then I must cooperate with Him to live. Thus it becomes a very legal, and law-like relationship wherin I can boast of my wondrous obedience, and degrade those who "just don't get it".

However, if God alone births His Son in me by His Spirit, and He does not need my help to do so, then I can have all the confidence in the world that what He has begun, He is faithful to complete, and the relationship I have is one of sonship, and not law. It is a truly organic and living life, wherein I cannot boast for the grace I have recceived, and I cry out from my unworthiness, Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me, and I cannot hold others as fools for not understanding as their eyes are darkened at the moment, but God is still working.

One last look at Scripture for now

1Co 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
1Co 1:27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
1Co 1:28 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:
1Co 1:29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1Co 1:30 [b]But of him are ye in Christ Jesus,[/b] who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
1Co 1:31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

This whole section is about the calling or elction of God, and culminates with the grand statement, "of him are ye in Christ.." Naturally we must ask, "of who?", and seeing as the passage has been speaking about God and His work in calling us, it is safe and proper to say, "of God are ye in Christ."

If what Jesse is saying were right, it would say this, "but of yourselves are ye in Christ, who by you choice has been made unto you..." Or
"but from your cooperation are ye in Christ"
But is says neither.

The first of many posts I am sure :-D


_________________
patrick heaviside

 2007/7/6 11:55Profile
Logic
Member



Joined: 2005/7/17
Posts: 1791


 Re:

Quote:
Lazarus1719 wrote:
If God wants everyone to be saved, and regeneration/conversion is inevitable, why isn't everyone regenerated/converted?

The whole idea of an unavoidable salvation seems to leave room for either:

1. A God who doesn't love everyone, but makes the salvation of some unavoidable and the condemnation of others unavoidable

2. A God who loves everyone and therefore makes the salvation of everyone unavoidable - Universalism

To escape both of those traps, I wrote the original post.


3. A God who loves everyone and therefore makes the salvation available for everyone to choose, but not all choose salvation.

 2007/7/6 13:36Profile
CJaKfOrEsT
Member



Joined: 2004/3/31
Posts: 901
Melbourne, Australia

 Re:

Quote:

Logic wrote:
Quote:
Lazarus1719 wrote:
If God wants everyone to be saved, and regeneration/conversion is inevitable, why isn't everyone regenerated/converted?

The whole idea of an unavoidable salvation seems to leave room for either:

1. A God who doesn't love everyone, but makes the salvation of some unavoidable and the condemnation of others unavoidable

2. A God who loves everyone and therefore makes the salvation of everyone unavoidable - Universalism

To escape both of those traps, I wrote the original post.


3. A God who loves everyone and therefore makes the salvation available for everyone to choose, but not all choose salvation.



#3 is not [b]unavoidable salvation[/b], so why insert it?


_________________
Aaron Ireland

 2007/7/7 5:21Profile
CJaKfOrEsT
Member



Joined: 2004/3/31
Posts: 901
Melbourne, Australia

 Re:

Quote:

roaringlamb wrote:
The new birth is not synergistic at all. God does not need man to cooperate with Him to give the new birth, for it is like the wind, it happens where it will. Can man manufacture wind? Neither can he manufacture the new birth.

What is important in this discussion is to remember that God in no way forces anyone into regeneration. The Spirit of God changes the desires of the will/heart and suddenly the gospel seems logical, Christ is who He says He is, sin is what the Bible says it is, and this happens without any work of man.

In saying that because God loves people, He must save everyone, or give everyone a chance to be saved, one need but only look at the OT to see that many were outside of Israel, and far from the salvation they experienced. We cannot come to this discussion with humanistic ideologies of who or what God is. The facts are pretty straight forward, if God wanted all men everywhere to be saved, they would be, end of story.

God is the Creator, and as such He has absolute authority of His creation. He alone gives the new birth which allows faith.



Way to save me alot of time typing stuff out ;-). Well put.


_________________
Aaron Ireland

 2007/7/7 5:25Profile
CJaKfOrEsT
Member



Joined: 2004/3/31
Posts: 901
Melbourne, Australia

 Re:

Quote:

InTheLight wrote:
Quote:
I propose that the bible nowhere says that regeneration consist in the reception of a new faculty, (freewill) neither in the healing of a broken faculty, (freewill), but regeneration is synonymous with conversion – cleansing – washing – renewing, which is the proper usage of the already existing freewill, which proper use the Spirit of God brings about, not by force or causation, but by the influence of the truth upon the mind of man, and when the will yields to, submits to, and obeys, the revelation of the Spirit perceived by the mind, then a sinner is regenerated/converted.



I don't believe that conversion is synonomous with regenereation. Conversion involves the opening of mens eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light. It is man coming to see his utter need. Before God can regenerate a man he has to open his eyes to see his own corrupted heredity and that at the Cross Jesus provided the way for me to partake of His heredity. Then we can begin to understand what Jesus is talking about when He says we must be holy. Conversion is argeement with God's verdict on sin at the Cross.

Regeneration is receiving something from God, a precious gift, and we do need to be conscious of our need for this hence our eyes must be opened. The man who has been born again knows it because he has received a gift from God and not because of his own decision.



I have started another thread in response to this post, entitled [url=http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/newbb/viewtopic.php?viewmode=thread&order=0&topic_id=17841&forum=36&post_id=139688&refresh=Go]Regeneration: The Sovereign Prerogative of God[/url]


_________________
Aaron Ireland

 2007/7/7 11:30Profile





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