I believe that salvation is a gift of God based upon no work which man may do. Long ago I was convinced of this based upon Ephesians 2:8–9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” I humbly accepted this when I was young, with great wonder at the kindness of God. Another well known verse that helped shape my beliefs was John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” In the same vein, I had the short statement of Paul to the Philippian jailor memorized: “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). At that early age, these verses constituted the extent of my understanding of the doctrine of salvation. I would often run them through my mind and ponder their significance. “God is so gracious,” I would say to myself. “He requires nothing for us to be saved. Nothing, that is, but faith.”

Faith alone! The great battle cry of the Reformation. As I grew in my understanding of this salvation, I added many verses and passages to my “soteriological repertoire.” Among the more significant of these were the shocking statements made in Romans 9 and John 6. These verses gave me my first exposure to the doctrines known as “election,” “sovereign grace,” or “Calvinism.” I was again humbled by what these doctrines taught. Not only does God not require anything but faith for salvation, but He is the one who is solely responsible for salvation, having predestined people before the foundation of the world. Wow! As I wondered upon such marvelous yet confusing doctrines, there was a question that continually resurfaced. If God does not require any works for salvation, and if He is in control of the process to such an extent that He predestined all of this to occur, why does He require that one thing? As Bono says in “Though I don’t know why, I know I’ve got to believe.” Why does God require something so seemingly trifle as faith?

Don’t confuse my question. I am not asking if faith is a work. That is a different issue. I am speaking of faith as a requirement. Why, if God has worked everything out to such an extent that He is the one within people who is sovereignly and irresistibly calling them to a new life in Christ, does He initiate His plans with a human response of faith? It just seemed rather trivial to me. Not that I thought faith was unimportant, just as I don’t think that love, hope, or service are unimportant. But I thought that it was a little odd for God to require anything at all.

I accepted it, living with the tension for the time. At this time, my ordo salutis (order of salvation) looked like this:

Of all the components here, the only one before justification that is the responsibility of man is faith/repentance. All of the others are brought about and accomplished solely by God. The final goal is glorification, while the primary instrument of bringing this about is faith. God predestines people before the foundation of the world, and at some point in time He calls them to respond in faith. In response to this faith, God regenerates them and they enter into a justified standing. God accomplishes everything but the final instrumental link—faith. Later I made the discovery that there are other possible models of the ordo salutis and that there is a poswesible solution to my dilemma.

Many (if not most) Reformed theologians subscribe to an ordo salutis that places regeneration before faith. Their model, using the same components, looks like this:

The reason most Reformed theologians come to this conclusion is not necessarily because they have the same difficulties that I expressed above. Their reasons are much more complex and philosophical. It is my purpose in this here to briefly evaluate the Reformed ordo salutis with respect to regeneration preceding faith.

First, I will state their position, giving it biblical and philosophical defense. Second, I will deal with problems that arise from the position. Finally, I will evaluate the position.

Statement of the Position

As stated above, most Reformed theologians believe that regeneration necessarily precedes faith. They would not, however, make the sequence a temporal one, but logical. Temporally, it may be stated that all of the events in the ordo salutus stated above happen at the same time. But Reformed theologians would see a necessary logical order in these components of salvation. John MacArthur put it this way: “From the standpoint of reason, regeneration logically must initiate faith and repentance. But the saving transaction is a single, instantaneous event.” Regeneration is seen as a sovereign act of God by which He causes a person who is spiritually dead to become spiritually alive. We sometimes call this “monergism.” This act is not in anyway dependent upon man. Reformed theologian Anthony Hoekema puts it this way: “Regeneration must be understood, not as an act in which God and man work together, but as the work of God alone.”

Why do Reformed theologians insist upon an ordo salutis in which regeneration precedes faith? There are two primary reasons. First is because of their strong stance on total depravity. Second is because certain Scriptures seem to support the view.

First we shall deal with regeneration’s relationship to total depravity. According to Scripture, man is unable to do any good whatsoever. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” Jeremiah also states that just as a leopard cannot change its spots, neither can man change his evil heart (Jer. 13:23). Paul also states in Romans 3:10–11, “There is none righteous, not even one. There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God.” There are two primary Scriptures that would be used to defend this belief:

Eph.2: 1–3
“But you were dead in you trespasses and sins in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”

1 Cor. 2:14
“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised (emphasis added).”

The convincing argument is then made that if man is in such a position that he is evil (Jer. 17:9), does not ever seek to do good (Rom. 3:10–11), and that he cannot change his position (Jer. 13:23), how can anyone expect him to do the greatest good and accept the Gospel? Furthermore, man is spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1). A dead person cannot respond to the Gospel any more than a blind person can respond to light. As Best puts it, “What is good news to a dead man? As light cannot restore sight to a blind man, so the light of the gospel cannot give spiritual light to one who is spiritually blind.”

Finally, a non-spiritual person cannot receive the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14). How can anyone be expected to receive the Gospel, which is spiritual, in an unconverted state? The person must first become spiritual—the person must first be regenerated. Sproul sums up the logic, “If original sin involves moral ability, as Augustine and the magisterial Reformers insisted, then faith can occur only as the result of regeneration, and regeneration can occur only as a result of effectual or irresistible grace.” A good illustration to describe this way of thinking is physical birth. As a baby cries out only after it is born, so also believers cry out in faith only after God has regenerated them.

There are also many other Scriptures that seem to explicitly teach that regeneration comes before faith.

Acts 16:14
“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening; and the Lord opened her heart to respond [regenerated her] to the things spoken by Paul” (emphasis added).

Lydia, here, is portrayed as a woman who had her heart opened to receive the Gospel before she received it.

John 1:12–13
“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born [regenerated], not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (emphasis added).

The will of man is here shown to be uninvolved in the regenerating process of God.

Rom. 9:16
“So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs [or strives], but on God who has mercy” (emphasis added).

Again, the will of man is taken out of the picture in the saving process of God.

Problems with the Position

The problems connected with believing that regeneration preceds faith are primarily biblical. Even Erickson, a moderate Calvinist who does not subscribe to the Reformed ordo, states, “It must be acknowledged that, from a logical standpoint, the usual Calvinistic position makes good sense. If we sinful humans are unable to believe and respond to God’s gospel without some special working of his within us, how can anyone, even the elect, believe unless first rendered capable of belief through regeneration? To say that conversion is prior to regeneration would seem to be a denial of total depravity.” Erickson and others, however, do oppose the Reformed ordo. Bruce Demarest, another moderate Calvinist, supports the opposite position that regeneration is initiated by faith, “God grants new spiritual life by virtue of the individual’s conscious decision to repent of sins and appropriate the provisions of Christ’s atonement.” Those who, like Erickson and Demarest, affirm this would even state that regeneration is entirely a work of God, and that man cannot, by nature, respond to the Gospel. Therefore, some initial, or preparatory, work of God is necessary to make man able to respond to the Gospel. Erickson and Demarest believe that this preparatory work is God’s effectual calling, not regeneration. In response to this calling, man initiates faith and conversion, and then he is regenerated.

In this scheme, the effectual calling can be likened to the Arminian understanding of prevenient grace. Prevenient grace is the way that Arminians can hold both to total depravity and human choice. Even they recognize that man, left in his natural condition, must be made alive in some sense in order to have the ability to respond to the Gospel. The only difference between Erickson and Demarest’s scheme is that the spiritual awakening brought about by the calling is always effectual whereas previenient grace is not.

Nevertheless, the reason why those Calvinists who stand with Erickson and Demarest as well as Arminians would stand opposed to the Reformed ordo is because certain Scriptures seem to suggest that faith is a necessary component for regeneration. Norman Geisler, in his book Chosen But Free, emphatically denounces the Reformed position stating, “As anyone familiar with Scripture can attest, verses allegedly supporting the contention that regeneration preceds faith are in short supply.” He then goes on, “It is the uniform pattern of Scripture to place faith logically prior to salvation as a condition for receiving it.” Among the passages he sites are:

(1) Rom. 5:1
“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Faith is here stated to be the source of justification. But most Reformed theologians place justification after faith as well (see chart). They do not equate regeneration with justification. Geisler seems to have misunderstood the Reformed position at this point.

(2) Luke 13:3
“I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

But this does not speak to the issue of regeneration. Geisler’s statement, “Here repentance is the condition for avoiding judgment,” would also be affirmed by those who hold the Reformed position, for they would state that repentance logically preceds justification which results in salvation. Therefore, this verse presents no conflict with the Reformed ordo. Again, Geisler seem to have misunderstood the Reformed position.

(3) 2 Peter 3:9
“The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

This, again, cannot be used to suggest either ordo. It is difficult to see why one would use such a verse to support their position. The verse could have as well stated, “God wills all to be regenerated.” This would not prove that regeneration comes before faith!

(4) John 3:16
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

This verse does teach that belief in Christ is the instrumental act in salvation, but it says nothing about when the act of regeneration occurs in the process.

(5) Acts 16:31
“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.”

The order here is presented as faith first, then salvation. An initial, unbiased reading of this verse would suggest to anyone that faith is a condition of salvation. Of all the verses put forth above, only the last presents some merit in suggesting that faith precedes salvation, but not regeneration. I will explain below.

Evaluation of the Reformed Position

If one is to adhere faithfully to the doctrine of total depravity, understanding that man is unable to come to God on his own, he or she must insist that there must be some initial act of God by which He enables a person to accept the Gospel in faith. The Reformed position explained in this study, in my view, is the most consistent and biblically defendable position. The option that God’s effectual calling is that which enables a person to come to faith and thereby be regenerated is attractive but difficult to substantiate. The Scriptures do not anywhere indicate that faith comes before regeneration. In fact, one may state that salvation in the general all-encompassing sense (predestination, atonement, calling, regeneration, faith, and justification) is completed after faith, and therefore remain faithful to the plain reading of the text that suggests faith is before regeneration. For he or she would not then be suggesting that faith is before regeneration, but that faith logically occurs before the savific process is complete. In other words, the word salvation would be used to describe the entire complete package with all of the ordo (excluding sanctification and glorification) included. This would be a good way to explain the last Scripture (Acts 16:31) stated above and remain consistent to the Reformed position.

But Scripture nowhere suggests that faith initiates regeneration in the restricted since. Grudem’s statement is helpful at this point:

“The reason that evangelicals often think that regeneration comes after saving faith is that they see the results . . . after people come to faith, and they think that regeneration must therefore have come after saving faith. Yet here we must decide on the basis of what Scripture tells us, because regeneration itself is not something we see or know about directly: ‘The wind blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes; so it is with every one who is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8).”

Previously I mentioned my dilemma concerning God’s requirement of faith and nothing else for salvation. This study has helped me to get a better handle on the issues that are involved. I have come to the conclusion that I am in agreement with the Reformed camp concerning the ordo salutis. I believe that regeneration is a sovereign act of God by which He places a new life within a person so that the person naturally responds in faith. At the same time, I am not entirely dogmatic about this. I hope that as I continue to study Scripture, I will gain more insight.

Charles Wesley painted the picture beautifully of the Reformed ordo salutis in one stanza of the great hymn “And Can It Be.” (Though, I know, he was must certainly speaking about prevenient grace.)

Long my imprisoned spirit lay [alienation from God]

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night [total depravity].

Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray: [regeneration (Reformed) or prevenient grace (Arminian)]

I woke—the dungeon flamed with light! [enlightening]

My chains fell off, my heart was free, [salvation]

I rose, went forth, and followed Thee. [faith]

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    391 replies to "Does Regeneration Precede Faith?"

    • sola deo gloria

      (Cont from last post)… If I accept your idea of decisional regeneration, then I must also accept the idea that anyone can be regenerated because the power to do so is in themselves.

      Lets just look at one text critically:

      John 10:14-15. With John 10:26-27.
      Jesus knows His sheep and His sheep know Him, He even says and I lay down my life for the sheep. But then He goes to this Jew and says, “But you do not believe, because you are not My sheep…” This person doesn’t believe because He is not His sheep. John 6:37. John 6:65. John 8:43. John 8:47.

      So Jesus says, “I know My sheep,” is the whole world His sheep, obviously this guy wasn’t. What about Matt 7:23. Jesus says He doesn’t know these people either. Are they His sheep, obviously not. Can goats be regenerated by decision? obviously not, because they don’t ‘Hear [His] voice,’ Why do they not hear, because they are not able. Who is able, “No one able unless it is granted to Him by the father. Sovereign grace accepted, free-will regeneration rejected, just connect the dots.

    • Arminian

      I addressed John 1:13 more than once, and my whole argument involved both Jn 1:12 and 13, and the undeniable parallel between them. But you don’t respond to my points. rather you cite an insulting remark made by another Calvinist, which seems to fit your style of interaction. But it doesn’t commend your theology; rather, it appears like bad fruit from bad theology.

      The types of passages you bring up in John as supporting Calvinism and opposinhg Arminian theology have been addressed compellingly and at length in the this incredible article: http://evangelicalarminians.org/node/282, showing that they are best understood as fully compatible with Arminian theology. Calivnists who have read it have often been impressed by the author’s work and just have not had much by way of response. Calvinists misinterpret those passages and miss their real context in the Gospel of John. Arminians agree that no one can come to Jesus unless God draws them. But Jesus tells us he draws all (Jn 12:32)

    • Ron

      Arminian, “all” doesn’t actually mean all (except, of course, when it’s used in Ephesians 1:11 😀 See sdg’s post here: http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2011/02/regeneration-prcede-faith/comment-page-7/#comment-50689)

    • sola deo gloria

      This form of exegesis reminds me of a kindergardener trying scribble between the lines.

      you quoted a text John 12:32. Lets think critically. John 12:19. Really the whole world? must have been crowded in jerusalem, Indians rowing up in canoes, Eskimos coming over sand dunes with sleds and sled dogs… ABSURD!

      John 12:32. “Draw” = Hekuso (G1670) = literally drag. Lets see where else this is used, before we jump the gun as you have done.
      John 6:44. “Draw” = Helkuse (G1670). Is the ‘him’ drawn (dragged) the same as the ‘him’ raised up? is the first ‘auton’ the same person as the second ‘auton’ in this verse? Can you prove that its not? All who are drawn in the form Jesus is referring with ‘helkuse’ / ‘helkuso’ are also raised up. Unless you can convince someone that the ‘him’ is a different ‘him’ in John 6:44.

      draw (drag) ALL people? head for head? this falls on its face immediately in another way. What about the thousand years that north and south America didn’t even exist in the minds of western civilization? The gospel was not there, even today many die without it. They were drawn too? While the world was still considered flat? Think seriously about this. Now you are trying to push natural theology. that I can find the God of the Bible by looking at a tree or some other created thing without the revelation in the Word. ABSURD!

    • sola deo gloria


      I do appreciate your impartiality. But would you let your child play with matches? or run with a pair of scissors? You should not do the like with this man.

      The sovereignty of God and the will of God in salvation are completely different things.
      Taking this logic and a person may begin to worship a god that wears a lucky rabbit’s foot around his neck, crosses his fingers, blows on the cosmic dice, and prays to lady luck.

      God’s sovereignty is expressly stated as ‘all’ encompassing (Isaiah 46:9-11. Daniel 4:34-35. Psalms 115:3. Jer 10:23)

    • Ron

      What are you blathering on about now? Thank you for admitting that your understanding of words in a passage has literally nothing to do with the actual words in context, but instead is determined by some other theological presuppositions.

      You should not do the like with this man.

      You’re a silly little kid who recently stumbled upon Calvinism (and bought it hook, line, and sinker, after listening to either John Piper or James White, I bet) who has already admitted to being dishonest and hypocritical (and only after I went through the trouble of demonstrating it). You bring nothing new or original to the table. Your thinking is sloppy and simplistic. Your little lists of proof-texts at the end of every assertion you make are an embarrassment.

      You are not a person that needs or deserves to be taken seriously. My humorous little one-liners are apparently all that is needed to demonstrate that. The fact that you think so highly of yourself is literally incredible.

    • sola deo gloria

      I’m sorry you see scripture as embarrassing. For some reason I thought the point of commenting was to discuss Scripture, or in other words, using texts to demonstrate a point. Not your idea of man being the measure all things (really, literally ‘all?’)

      Your problem is only partially concerned with me. The rest is in the inability to accept what the Bible actually says. Follow your theology to open theism where it, in all consistency, ends up.

      Your inability to take Scripture seriously is what is embarrassing. You trying to help Arminian is like the blind leading the blind, you both fall in a ditch! Woe to me for trying to help you out. Your both heavier then i thought.

    • Ron

      This was hardly the devastating response I expected after such a dire warning! 🙂

      I’m sorry you see scripture as embarrassing.

      I said no such thing. You either lack basic comprehension skills or are intentionally misrepresenting me. Which one is it? Based on your past behavior, I’d say that latter, but I’m open to correction on this point.

      For some reason I thought the point of commenting was to discuss Scripture

      My point of commenting was to point out your hypocritical behavior. I can’t speak for anyone else.

      The rest is in the inability to accept what the Bible actually says.

      No you don’t accept what Bible actually says. Wasn’t that helpful?

      Your inability to take Scripture seriously is what is embarrassing

      Kindly show where I have not taken Scripture seriously. Please stop lying!

      You trying to help Arminian

      Pointing out your hypocrisy is hardly “trying to help Arminian”.


    • sola deo gloria

      Your little lists of proof-texts at the end of every assertion you make are an embarrassment.

      nope, wasn’t my comprehension skills.

      And btw, now who is throwing ad hominem slanders? I didn’t deny that the nature of a human being is an wildly unpredictable thing, heinous in all its logic and ways. But now your own hypocrisy also makes the point.

    • Ron

      I said that your lists are an embarrassment, not that Scripture is an embarrassment. If you can’t understand such a basic distinction, how can you hope to do justice to more complex issues of biblical interpretation?

      About ad hominem, you are mistaken on two points:

      1. I would only be hypocritical if I said something like “You shouldn’t use ad hominems!” And then continued to use them myself. As it stands, I did no such thing. I merely pointed out your hypocrisy for doing just that.

      2. The informal ad hominem fallacy occurs when someone says or implies that because of some personal trait about a person, his conclusions are therefore incorrect. I’ve done no such thing. I have pointed out negative things about you, to be sure, but have nowhere said or implied that because of that, your views on regeneration are incorrect. Truthfully, I waver back and forth on the issue of monergistic regeneration.

      Hope that helps!

    • cherylu

      (Still lurking here.)

      Sola, believe me when I say I have seen interactions with Ron before and this is NOT his usual way of interacting. He was trying to make a point, points several of us have been trying to make about your way of interacting here. What he has said to you in the last couple of comments have been more a less an example, it seems to me, of the way you have interacted here since you came with your seven gun salute a few days ago. As I told you last night, you’ve gotten yourself so far dug in that it will take a long time to dig yourself back out again. Are you aware that folks have been banned from this blog in the past for such behavior?

      It is obvious that you won’t accept any one else’s interpretation of anything that doesn’t match yours. Making snide remarks doesn’t make points.

      And even though I don’t have the time or energy to spend in this “debate” at the moment, I do still have an interest here. I spent a considerable amount of time here earlier.

    • Ron

      Alright, cherylu has brought me back to Earth 🙂 I sort of allowed myself to be drawn into a juvenile exchange– as much as I like to think myself above that. I’ve made my point, but I’m still mad that nobody commented on my hilarious Lady Gaga joke.

      Blessings all, I’m out for now.

    • cherylu


      We need you!

    • sola deo gloria

      Ok, I will not disturb any longer with the Scriptural proof that supports Calvinism and destroys arminianism.

      To all that are reading this, if you are not in Christ, you will be found lacking before God. You are a wicked sinner, vile and repulsive, awaiting judgment before God. Look at yourself. Can you deny this video? Repent and believe the Gospel!

      Grace to you all! (But more grace then I could show :))

    • cherylu


      You know, most of the folks that write articles on this blog (I’m not speaking of the commenters) are Calvinists. So you are definitely in the majority here in that respect. There have been many, many discussions on Calvinism/Arminianism here in the past that many of us have taken part in.

      That is standard procedure around here. It is the way this was done that was the problem here recently. Are you familiar with the old saying, “Like a bull in a china closet?” That is kind of the way that your interaction has felt–smash bang, crash! 🙂

    • sola deo gloria

      Sorry, I just love the Doctrines of Grace!

      Even if I don’t come across as the most gracious! I know that I am a work in progress (Eph 2:10)

      Bye now 🙂

    • Mickey


      I’m late to the game on this, but I enjoyed your article. Sola, keep it up brother. Amazing how the Word is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of man, isn’t it?

      Sola Fide

    • Arminian


      I wonder if you missed some of the comments on the post. The doctrine of regeneration preceding faith is an especially weak one IMO. And I believe some of the comments have really brought this out.

    • Mickey

      My Arminian Friend…

      Please read John chapter 3, “You must be born again.” Those who are born again (regenerated) are given the gift of faith and repenatance. As John the Baptist said, ““A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven.” John 3:27

      Scripture trumps blog comments every time.

      Solus Christus


    • Arminian


      Iti s ironic that you point to John 3, where it is made clear that we become born again by faith! We receive the life that the Spirit gives by faith. John 3:27 is certainly true, but it doesn’t support regeneration preceding faith.

      Moreover, I agree that Scripture trumps blog comments. But when blog comments are faithful to Scripture and show how Scripture teaches that faith precedes regeneratiion, as in this thread, well then, I am going to have to believe the Bible and the blog comments that are faithful to it rather than blog comments that are contrary to the Bible. Just saying . . .

      God bless, brother.

    • Mickey


      “Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” Jn 3:7-8

      Are not the “whosoever” in John 3:15 & 16 those who have been born again as Jesus spoke of in verses 7 & 8? Do not marvel my friend but objectively believe the Word. “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will.” (John 5:21) You see, a person must have life before he can act. John 5: 24-25, “…the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.” Because of that life that Jesus gives, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life.” John 5:24

      Please understand that I believe whole heartedly in evangelism. For, “…we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us.” 2 Cor 5:20


    • Arminian

      John 3:7-8 is completely true; you simply assume an unnatural meaning for it. The Holy Spirit regenerates whoever he wills. But the question is, who does he will to regenerate? John 3 makes clear it is those who believe. (BTW, it is completely question-begging to assume that “whoever he wills” means unconditionally; indeed, that would be a very unusual meaning for such a phrase.)

      The whosoever of John 3:15-16 are not the ones who had been born again, but the ones who become born again by believing. The text has it that those who believe may have eternal life, not that those who have eternal life may believe. 3:15 gives the illustration that just as Israelites looked to the serpent symbol and therefore lived, so those who look to Jesus/believe in him will receive spiritual life. You turn the text on its head! This is why I said it is ironic that you mentioned John 3. It actually teaches the faith precedes regeneration; spiritual life comes by faith, a major theme in John. Im…

    • Mickey


      Congratualtions on your new life through faith! Glory to you!

      I received my faith from my new life, (both as a gift), to the glory of God alone! Sola Gratia!

      I did not imagine that I could change your mind, nor do I wish to. Revelation comes from God. I beg of you to stay open to God’s sovereignty. If God gives his sovereignty away to you (and others), then by definition, he is no longer sovereign is he?

      My prayer for you is, ” that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

      Grace and peace to you through the Lord Jesus Christ…


    • Mickey

      I enjoyed Michael’s blog, but felt he made a slight mistake with this sentence, “An initial, unbiased reading of this verse would suggest to anyone that faith is a condition of salvation.”

      I suppose it could be said that “…faith is a condition of conversion.” Conversion being the regenerated man’s exercise of the gift of faith and repentance. But in that respect it would be God’s condition, not man’s.

      Perhaps Spurgeon said it best, “‘Repentance’ is a grace. Some people preach it as a condition of salvation. Condition of nonsense! There are no conditions of salvation. God gives the salvation himself…” (“Repentance Unto Life,” September 23, 1855)

    • Arminian

      M said: “Congratualtions on your new life through faith! Glory to you!”

      *** Interesting that you see life through faith as giving glory to man and not God when Scripture repeatedly affirms spiritual life by/through faith explicitly, as in John 3:15-16, which we have been discussing. You see, as Scripture makes clear, faith precludes boasting (Rom 3:25-28; Rom 4:4-45).

      You beg me to stay open to God’s sovereignty? I completely embrace and believe in God’s sovereignty as Scripture teaches it. Allowing us to have a choice in a matter is not him giving his sovereignty away, but it is actually his sovereign choice; he can do as he pleases. The problem is that you seem to be advocating a notion of God’s soveriengty at odds with Scripture and that would deny God the right to give life by faith just as he justifies by faith. I would beg you to stay open to God’s word rather than turning its text on its head, as with John 3 (see my previous post for demonstration of this).


    • Mickey


      Thanks for your concern. May God be glorified.

      I do not doubt your regeneration or faith, I just have faith that your new life occurred before hand. My goal is simply to glorify God. If I have not I beg your forgiveness.

      What are your thoughts on penal substitution?

      Toujours Pret


    • Arminian

      All glory and honor to God!

      I ascribe to penal substitution as a major aspect of the atonement, as do most Arminians including Arminius himself.

      God bless!

    • Jeff Ayers

      After reading the article and subsequent posts on the issue of “regeneration preceding faith” allow me some observations:

      1. The Bible NEVER states that regeneration precedes faith.
      2. The Bible is explicit when stating all who are quickened (made alive) and receive eternal life is by faith
      3. Only a man made system such as Reformed 5 point TULIP Calvinism requires and necessiates a need for “regeneration preceding faith”
      4. If regeneration precedes faith then you have a person who is quickened (made alive spiritually) but is not justified, sanctified (positionally) saved, given eternal life, Have Christ in them, have their sins forgiven, and they are not seated in heavenly places, crucifed with Christ, buried with Christ or risen with Christ.

      You have something that the Bible never speaks of.

      what a tangled theological web we weave, when at first we practive theology without scriptural support and become deceived.

    • Steve Martin

      A few of you may like this class. It’s related to the topic at hand and about halfway through Pastor Mark gets into it:



    • Ed Kratz

      The bible never say lots of stuff:

      Hypostatic union
      What books belong in the bible
      Free will
      The bible does not even say Bible!

      We are talking about theological concepts taught in the Bible.

    • Jeff Ayers


      if you would have read my entire post you would have seen that i was not looking for a magical phrase of “regeneration precedes faith”… I am fully aware of those examples and many more… I ever realize the bible does not say “Faith precedes regeneration”.

      My 4 points and comments taken as a whole are simply posing this question:

      Why does the Bible have scores of verses that SEQUENTIALLY (ordo salutis?) have faith prior to salvation (regenerative-justification type “salvation”); and dozens more that imply this order–But none of the verses mentioned in the posts or elsewhere in the scriptures even give a clear implication that an unsaved person is made alive spiritually without a pre-requisite of faith, belief or trust?

      Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

      Paul sums up the issue well.

      BTW–i love the way you make me think –thank you and God for your ministry!!

    • Nelson Banuchi

      Pattonquotes a line in Wesley’s hymn and interprets as follows:

      “Thine eye diffused a quick’ning ray: [regeneration (Reformed) or prevenient grace (Arminian)]”

      Regeneration is not synonymous with prevenient grace (or grace per se); neither is divine illumination or enlightenment itself the act of regeneration, although it may lead to regeneration.

      Patton seems to confuse prevenient grace as the act of God regenerating (rather than viewing the former as the origin or cause of the latter), thus advocating obtaining salvation before obtaining salvation.

      Furthermore, under Calvinism’s erroneous theological presuppositions, Patton wrongly equates the Arminian understanding of “prevenient grace” with the Calvinist notion of regeneration.

      It seems to me that Arminius taught that prevenient grace is not the act of regeneration per se but regenerative; that there is “an intermediate stage between being unregenerate and regenerate. The intermediate stage is when the human being is not so much free to respond to the gospel…but freed to respond…” (Roger Olson, “Arminian Theology”, p.164).

    • Nelson Banuchi

      Sola de Gloria said (March 28, 2011 at 3:38 am), “If a person reads Rom 9 and holds the exact objections that Paul anticipates his view of election and reprobation will produce, there is a pretty good chance your on the wrong side .”

      Nelson: Are you saying if someone correctly understands the “exact objections” Paul is answering in Romans 9, “there is a pretty good chance your on the wrong side,” that is, that Paul got it wrong so, the reader would have ir wrong?

      Sola: “However, my view of the arminian doctrine is another story. The doctrinal system has been judged unbiblical, the authors of the doctrine known to be morally questionable, unwilling to tolerate and coexist with the orthodox beliefs, and were unwilling to stand on scripture alone; not clearly presenting themselves and their beliefs in writing till forced to do so.”

      Nelson: I’d like to know (a) whether you get your informatiom from exclusively Calvinistic writings or, also from Arminian writings, and (b) specifically, which writings?

      Sola: “Today this system is responsible for millions of false conversions, church weakening, unbiblical growth, a broader reliance on man, belittlement of sin and depravity for humanism that does anything to get a ‘confession’ of faith.”

      Nelson: Where do you get this information? Where are your statictical information?

    • […] Does Regeneration Precede Faith? […]

    • zeek


    • SDG

      I just wanted to mention the book I read that gave information about the events leading up to the Synod of Dort and the character of the remonstrants. It is:

      “The articles of the Synod of Dort, and its Rejection of Errors: With the History of Events Which Made way for that Synod, as Published by the Authority of the States-General; and the Documents Confirming its Decision”

      It is by Thomas Scott. You can search it on amazon. It was published by the authority of the States-General.

    • Nick Schoeneberger

      Michael, since you quoted Geisler’s book, I hope you have read James White’s refutation of it, “The Potter’s Freedom.” Geisler’s book was shown to be an embarrassment appealing to emotion and not the usual scholarly quality of Geisler’s many other works. The exegesis seems spotty at best and he turns the text on its head over and over. Worth a read (or two) and I think a response if you find yourself agreeing with anything Geisler had to say in “Chosen but Free.”


    • Aguinaldo Angeles

      Hi Brother Michael,
      I personally believed that salvation is totally by grace and can be receive by faith and repentance alone. What differs me from you is that you believed that Regeneration or quickening, the giving of life preceded Faith.
      My first question is, what is the difference between Faith and Believe?
      Second, What can you say about Jesus statement in John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: Here it was clearly stated by Jesus Christ Himself that believing preceded making one alive.
      Third,How about John’s purpose of selecting 8 miracles. John 20:30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
      John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. Here it is clearly understand that John’s intention of selecting these miracle was for the purpose that the reader might believe so that they might have life.
      Lastly, In your diagram above, we can know and tell the time when each event took place, for example: ELECTION was before the world begun, Jesus Death was when He was crucified, Calling is when the person hear the gospel of His salvation, CONVERSION is when the person responded in faith and Repent, JUSTIFICATION is received after man responded, and so on. And we can give each event a verse from the Bible to support it. My question is when does this REGENERATION take place? Can you give a verse to prove it?


      Your brother in Christ,
      Aguinaldo ANgeles

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