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Are we reconciled before or after faith or both?

Discussion in 'General Theology' started by zoidar, May 2, 2021.

  1. Hazelelponi

    Hazelelponi Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Regeneration occurs prior to faith, reconciliation occurs after.
     
  2. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I am all for reconcilation occuring after faith, or really simultaneously as faith.

    I'm still not sure what you guys mean by regenerated. Do you mean the same as being born again, saved? I don't really like the word regenerated, since it's not used in the Bible.

    Edit: Looked up the word regeneration. The word "palingenesia" is the word used for "new birth", could also mean "regeneration" or "renewal". Sorry, I didn't know that.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  3. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I will assume, that by 'believe' you mean salvific faith.

    I'm not even sure the 'before' time-wise is necessary, but Cause-wise. They may appear simultaneous.

    Romans 8: "5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God."

    John 6: "63 The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing." "65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”, "37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

    1 Cor 2: "12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. 14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit."

    2 Corinthians 4: "4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

    1 John 5: "1 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God"

    Ephesians 2: “1 And you were dead in your trespasses and sins.”

    John 3: "8 The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”

    Romans 11: "36 For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen"

    1 John 4: "7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God." "19 We love him because he first loved us."

    John 1: "12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God."

    Ephesians 2: "4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved."

    2 Corinthians 5: "14 ...the love of Christ compels us..."
     
  4. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks for the response, and beautiful verses! ❤️

    I don't think it's a good translation of John 6:65: "unless the Father enabled them". NASB which I mostly use says "granted". It could mean the same, but also be two very different things.

    I take it you mean regeneration is the moment when you receive the Holy Spirit and get a saving faith. This is what I call the new birth.

    I think one thing we will disagree on is that we can actually believe the gospel without having been regenerated/born again, without been given the Holy Spirit and saving faith. Honestly, it's a very stressful and also sad thought to me, still very much so...
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2021
  5. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    No, he's not-and the Church has never accepted everything he taught-but still teaches the necessity of the will of man being involved to whatever small degree (and the greater the degree the better as far as God is concerned), independent of God's completely changing it while nonetheless absolutely dependent on His moving and influencing it, regardless of what Augustine taught in any case.

    The will of man is actually the prize; it's what God has been appealing to and working on, by grace, ever since Eden. Certainly we're way limited, certainly we're lost and wouldn't even know where to look to find God if we wanted to, certainly we're full of pride and that fact keeps us from wanting to know Him to begin with. And yet, a variety of factors including His revelation and grace all conspire to attract us away from our other, less worthy and often destructive "loves", away from ourselves and our idols. And He certainly does not do this because He has to do so, but because given His nature He always has the very best interests of His beloved creation at heart-of all men. The greater we agree with Him, and will goodness and righteous ourselves, the greater our own jsutice or righteousness. We simply cannot do this apart from Him. And it cannot be done apart from the human will. And that will is uninvolved for all practical purpose if He simply causes it to completely change, with no allowance at all for our assent.

    Regeneration takes place as we come to believe, formally at baptism as most churches have believed and taught in the past. But regeneration then is still only the beginning. We can walk away, we can't predict our own perseverance; we can't know with absolute, 100% certainty if we're numbered among the elect. That uncertainty remains even within those who believe in strict determinism/predestination I'd bet, which is why most Christians behave as you described, more like Catholics and others who know they must strive and be vigilant and be holy, etc, IOW; a little fear and trembling is called for. And this is because even if we can say that regeneration takes place at the beginning of conversion, that doesn't mean our justice or righteousness-our love- has blossomed fully, and couldn't be compromised and ruined, losing our state of justice before Him as we break our relationship with Him by turning to a life spent committing deliberate acts opposed to love. It doesn't mean that we're fully bound to Him yet, that we truly love Him with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength: that's the measure of man's jsutice and perfection. And until then the possibility of turning away from Him always exists.
     
  6. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We may have some knowledge of the words, and even the worth of the words, and I will grant that there is no sure way to know the moment of regeneration, it being an actual event / process and not subjectively experiential. "It really happened --not because I felt it happen." So it is not only easy for God to give us instruction to our minds and to our hearts and to make it sound like it is all up to us, since, of course, we have responsibility to obey, etc.

    But frankly I see no understanding of the Gospel in a mere human, certainly not constancy of dedication, integrity, purity, or power of the will, of not only intensity but of degree of knowledge and understanding as to what this is all about and what this demands and what is involved, that is up to the task of making such a choice. I say: Only God can do this.

    I spent years doubting my choice. I had no doubt God could save me --that wasn't the problem. But I didn't understand it was not my choice that secured me. (Again, I'm not saying we don't choose --we most certainly do!)
     
  7. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The heart of the King is like a watercourse in the hand of the Lord. He directs it wherever he pleases.

    FWIW I don't believe we are even complete beings until we see Him as He is.
     
  8. fhansen

    fhansen Oldbie

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    Oh, I agree- finally! Ha! That love, that perfection, will be completed when we meet Him "face to face". Prior to that moment He'll have judged how well we've proceeded with whatever we've been given. And then, as a trivial point, you'll also have to alter your theology somewhat-but it won't matter anymore. :)

    Forgive me...
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2021
  9. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    No doubt all of our theologies will be altered --thank God for that! I can hardly wait to see him as he is!
     
  10. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I imagine it was a stressful time for you, doubting you had a place in God's kingdom.

    I have never questioned being reborn. There never was a shadow of a doubt. It was a life altering event. The thing that's been more troublesome for me is my present state of salvation. That might not be a problem if you believe in perseverance of the saints, but I don't hold that view. For the last years I haven't felt certain about salvation, mostly because of my failure to overcome sin.

    I'm also worried not only about my unbelieving close ones, but also fear for my Christian brothers and sisters. So many Christians today don't seem very Christian, you know what I mean.

    Edit: It was not really a choice I made to be a Christian, it was a plead for His forgiveness. If He would forgive me I would give Him my life. And God in His mercy answered my prayer.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2021
  11. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    What's the difference, really? Whether you worry you might lose your salvation or worry whether you were saved to begin with, if it depends on you, it is in vain. That's how I began to question the notion of God waiting for us to decide before he does anything.

    Perseverance of the saints is more about God, than about us. If he chooses someone to be a member of the perfect Bride of Christ, you can be sure God will not fail to accomplish what he set out to do. Nobody is like anyone else, there are no substitutes.

    Yeah, I hear you there! But then, I don't either sometimes.

    How do you think you became aware of your guilt?
     
  12. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I'm sure God lead me to Christ, so I don't think God just waited. You can be secure in Christ, even you can't know with 100% certainty you will persevere to the end. It's like you can be secure in a marriage, yet you don't know with 100% certainty it will last your whole life. You trust your wife, and that is enough for security.

    For me personally I do feel secure even I worry. Best way I can describe is like a tension between the two. I'm not living with 100% certainty of perserverance, but maybe that is a good thing? Maybe it brings me closer to Christ, taking my sins seriously, and clinging to Christ like my only hope, which he of course is.

    But if perseverance of the saints is not true, what good is it then to believe it and feel secure in that?

    God never fails what He sets out to do, but God has set out to save whoever repents and who repents is a work of God. Yet those that don't repent is because of their own resistance and hardness, not because God is withholding saving grace.

    Of course it's like that for me as well.

    I don't know! I can tell a long story about it, but would that help? That's for God to know. One thing I know is I was deeply scrutinizing my own heart, and I found evil within, that lead me to repentance.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  13. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Yes, but you [seem to] think that God only influenced you, not changed your will, so that you would 'listen' to him.

    I guess the difference is the direction of causation, here. You think this is all up to you, but it is all up to God, without which I would never care to persevere, except, perhaps, for in fear of perdition.

    Not sure why you said 'if [it] is not true". This sounds the same as what my mother (missionary parents, born of missionary parents, a theologian in her own right), asked me once, basically, "What good is TULIP if it removes the motivation to seek God, and live as a believer should?" To me the question is not only presumptive, but it points directly at the need, in hopes of removing God from blame for sin, to give credit to the sinner in choosing what is good, and to give credit to the believer for ceasing from sin. It is presumptive in that it assumes the only reason to repent, obey or seek God is to do what it takes to avoid failure, rather than simple love for God, and desire to be like he is. My mother never lacked for love for God or hunger for righteousness, but she never seemed to, in theory, understand where that came from. She assumed the motivation came from herself, not from God. Likewise, she thought faith was self-generated, though with help from God.

    Your words, I agree with, but it appears to me you make the person repenting the one to whom God reacts, rather than the one upon whom God acts being the one to react to God. You are, however, exactly right about the one who continues to sin. Any good in us is to God's credit, and any bad is to our blame.

    Why would you deeply scrutinize your own heart? How would you find evil within? Does that sound like something that a person at enmity with God would feel, or do? How can you even begin to repent, if you cannot please God, nor will you submit to God's law? (Romans 8)
     
  14. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I was thinking of replying tomorrow, but I don't think I get any sleep unless I do it now. ^_^

    Influenced doesn't sound right. I don't know exactly what you mean by "God changed your will" either. I would say: "God lead me to a changed will". I think God used my choices and others and different events to lead me there. Why would I scrutinize my heart? There is a long chain of events and choices. I don't know what part my free will played in this. This knowledge is hidden from us, the Bible doesn't give a detailed description, only God knows.

    God leads a person to conviction of sin which makes a person repent. I don't think you can please God until after you have repented. Our lives are dead in sin until we have repented and have been born again and are alive with Christ. That's why we need to repent before we can please God.

    Exactly, what does repentance mean to you?

    What I meant was perserverance of the saints needs to be true to be of any help or else am I not deceiving myself? I can't and won't believe it if it's just to ease worry, and I don't see it in the Bible.

    Love of Jesus is one reason to live a godly life, but fear of God is also important to live godly. Both parts are needed. If we love Jesus, but don't fear God we might not make the right choices when it really matters. Of course our motivation, our fear of the Lord and our love for God is a gift from the Holy Spirit. We can't take credit for that.

    Well, you could say God reacts when we repent. But it's also God that leads us to repent. This is the chain I see:

    1. God leads us to believe the Bible.
    2. We are convicted of sin.
    3. We repent.
    4. God gives us the Holy Spirit, we are regenerated/born again.
    5. We live a new life with Jesus.

    Could it happen differently? I have heard testimonies of people being born again at instant, seemingly be skipping both 1, 2 and 3, so what do I know. I don't set rules for God, if He chooses to give someone the new birth at instant, He will.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2021
  15. Mark Quayle

    Mark Quayle Well-Known Member Supporter

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    You use the word, 'leads', (as do most Christians nowadays), which I have come to see is often just support of the notion of freewill. Christians don't want God to cause them, or command them to do a thing, but to ask them, to show them nicely, to stand back and let them decide. (Decide? --yes, they do, but God causes it, either way they choose.) But when it comes to salvation, God is pretty clear the heart of the unsaved is wicked at the core. It will not choose him.

    You seem to posit some kind of neither this nor that, neither regenerated, but not altogether as the Bible describes the sinful nature --can I insert here, an idea? We know that the Spirit of God can do as it pleases. Is it possible for it to convict to some degree, to cause a desire for good, for righteousness, and a sensitivity to sinfulness, and to specific wrongdoings, yet not to do so savingly --that is, to leave the condemned still condemned, and all the goodness shown to it still leaving those things understood ACCORDING TO the sin nature? Yes, I think it is possible. But the work of the Spirit in regenerating the Elect is a different thing. No longer does the Elect think in the way he used to.

    You claim, as do many, that it was YOUR repentance, and others talk about submission, relinquishing, the cry for help, the accepting of Christ into their heart, and so on. All, of them, if true, wonderful things, but of no account if it is not God doing it in them! If it is not God doing it in them (no, not leading them, but causing it directly --the work of the Holy Spirit) then it is the sinful nature doing it, which is falseness. The change came before you knew it.

    However, I am not averse to the notion (and some of my Reformed brothers will be upset with me for this, haha!) that God, who not only 'invented' time, but also 'invented' cause-and-effect, and indeed, reality itself comes from him, can by the Spirit do things in ways that to us seem gradual, and even seem caused by our changes (our decisions) which somehow we insist are ours alone --'not caused by God or they are not real', we say-- and thus the Spirit effects that regeneration. We don't see it 'take hold' until we are awake enough to notice we have been given new life. We get the cause-and-effect wrong, but we do see the effect.

    'Perseverance of the Saints' is not an instruction, nor an operative principle. It is just a description, that puts the credit where it is due. The operative principle is the Spirit of God in us, which is there because God has determined to bring us to Heaven to be with him. The instruction is to obey and to continue to pursue Christ.

    The fear of the Lord can be a couple of things --but my reference, if I have it right what you were responding to, was the fear of hell. Fear of God is a good thing. Fear of hell may be a useful motivator, but not in itself a good thing otherwise. You are right, we can't take credit for the fear of the Lord, but the gift is more than simply operating on our thoughts and intelligence / motivations/ leaving it entirely up to us to choose to obey. "The love of Christ compels us" may even be a reference --a sort of beautiful play on words-- to the compulsion of the Spirit of God within us. Apart from Christ, we can do nothing. It is for THIS that we are made, not for the purpose of deciding on our own upon receiving the right instructions and information.

    I've heard testimonies of people who at some point realize what has happened to them, and who they belong to, 1,2 and 3 following. The only thing that to me makes sense, is this principle, and all the Scriptures that drive it: The Gospel is Christ. Not us. It is about Christ. Not about us. It is for Christ, from Christ, given by Christ. We are brought to Christ by the Grace of Christ. Not by freewill. It is Grace from beginning to end, the work of God.

    Our faith is weak, silly, ignorant and self-important. God's gift, the Holy Spirit within us, is NOT. THAT is the source of salvific faith --to whatever degree we have it, it is entirely real, wise, reliable and understanding of the things of God. It will not fail us because God has determined to keep us, if indeed we belong to him.
     
  16. zoidar

    zoidar Well-Known Member Supporter

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    My Lutheran friend said something along those lines, that I had been born again before I turned to God in prayer, and that it was my knowing of being saved that became apparent to me during the prayer. It's a good theory, which I actually like, still it's not how I believe it was.

    It was a miracle that I prayed to God that day, because I wouldn't have done it unless I had been brought to despair. I did repent, but it was all thanks to God drawing me. I wouldn't have done it by myself. But the biggest miracle is actually that God heard my prayer, that He was and is merciful.

    I wouldn't call our faith silly, whether weak or strong, it's a gift of God, bestowed us through the Holy Spirit. I don't know what you mean by faith being ignorant and self important. But I do get your point, that God's decision is much stronger than our faith.

    I like talking to you. It helps me understand more about where you (and other Reformed Christians) come from and why you hold this and this doctrine. I know many would answer because the Bible teaches it. Well, that is up for discussion.

    Have a blessed day my friend!
     
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