Predestination or Freewill Part 5: The Exact Moment of Regeneration

Ephesians 2:1, 4, 5
       And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins…But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).

C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): Regeneration is an instantaneous work, and justification an instantaneous gift…There is a dead man: now, if that man be raised from the dead, there must be an instant in which he was dead, and another instant in which he was alive…There must be a line—we cannot always see it ourselves, but God must see it—there must be a line between life and death. A man cannot be somewhere between dead and alive; he is either alive or he is dead; and so you are either dead in sin or alive unto God, and the process of spiritual quickening―the actual reception of life―must be instantaneous.

JOHN L. GIRARDEAU (1825-1898): In the case of every actual believer in Christ there must come a critical, supreme moment when the power to believe is consciously exercised. The Arminian holds that—at that moment—it is not God who by His efficacious grace determines the sinner to exercise faith, but the sinner who by the free, elective power of his own will, undetermined by a supernatural influence, determines himself to believe. This is clear, for by the same free election of his will he may determine not to believe.

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546): If we believe that Satan is the prince of this world, ever ensnaring and opposing the kingdom of Christ with all his strength, and that he does not let his prisoners go unless he is driven out by the power of the Divine Spirit, it is again apparent that there can be no ‘free-will.’ So, if we believe that original sin has ruined us to such an extent that even in the godly, who are led by the Spirit, it causes abundance of trouble by striving against good, it is clear that in a man who lacks the Spirit nothing is left that can turn itself to good.

SAMUEL RUTHERFORD (1600-1661): Man’s free will is not able to effectuate a saving change upon any person. You might as well say that the Ethiopian could change his skin, and the leopard his spots.

JAMES DURHAM (1622-1658): Then surely faith is not left pendulous on man’s free will, but it is put out of the question…If we loose but this one pin in making faith and conversion not to depend on grace but on freewill, then the whole fabric of grace falls down flat; then God should elect us because we were to elect Him, contrary to the Scripture, which tells us that He elects us, not we Him, and that our closing with Him by faith, depends on His electing us.

A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Arminians would answer, No; the Spirit’s work of conviction is the same both in the converted and in the unconverted, and that which distinguishes the one class from the other is that the former yielded to His strivings, whereas the latter resisted them. But if this were the case, then the Christian would make himself to ‘differ,’ whereas the Scripture attributes the ‘differing’ to God’s discriminating grace, I Corinthians 4:7.

JOHN NEWTON (1725-1807): What has made us differ from our former selves? Grace. What has made us differ from those who are now as we once were? Grace.

JOHN L. GIRARDEAU: Regenerating grace, from the nature of the case, cannot be, in any degree, resisted.

JOHN WESLEY (1703-1791): If this be so then is all preaching vain: it is needless to them that are elected; for they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be saved. Therefore, the [purpose] of preaching to save souls is void, with regard to them. And it is useless to them that are not elected; for they cannot possibly be saved; they, whether with preaching or without, will infallibly be damned. The [purpose] of preaching is therefore void, with regard to them likewise. So in either case our preaching is vain, and your hearing also vain.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): O dear Sir, what kind of reasoning, or rather, sophistry is this! Hath not God, who appointed salvation for a certain number, appointed also the preaching of the word, as a means to bring them to it? Does anyone hold election in any other sense? And if so, how is preaching needless to them that are elected; when the gospel is designed by God Himself to be the power of God unto their eternal salvation?

MATTHEW POOLE (1624-1679): God, who ordered the end, ordereth the means, and gives them opportunity to hear the Word, and by it graciously worketh faith in them whom He hath appointed to eternal life.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: And since we know not who are elect, and who reprobate, we preach to all.

JAMES DURHAM: In some it is the savour of life unto life, in others the savour of death unto death, leaving them the more inexcusable, and the more obnoxious to wrath by their rejecting of the counsel of God against themselves.

JOHN WESLEY: I believe “election” means a Divine appointment of some men to eternal happiness. But I believe this election to be conditional, as well as the reprobation opposite thereto.

GEORGE WHITEFIELD: Dear Sir, for Jesus Christ’s sake, consider how you dishonour God by denying [unconditional] election. You plainly make salvation depend not on God’s free-grace, but on man’s free-will.

JOHN WESLEY: I believe the eternal decree concerning both the elect and the reprobate is expressed in the words: “He that believeth shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned.” And this decree, without doubt, God will not change, and man cannot resist.

JOHN NEWTON: You have objections to the doctrine of election…The work must begin somewhere. Either the sinner first seeks the Lord, or the Lord first seeks the sinner. The former is impossible, if by nature we are dead in trespasses and sins; if the god of this world has blinded our eyes, and maintains the possession of our hearts; and if our carnal minds, so far from being disposed to seek God, are enmity against Him.

JOHN WESLEY: But I believe this election to be conditional.

WILLIAM TIPTAFT (1803-1864): Who began the work in your soul, God or you?

JOHN WESLEY: In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

D. L. MOODY (1837-1899): People talk of finding Christ, but it is Christ that first finds them.

C. H. SPURGEON: Nothing short of an omnipotent Saviour could have saved me…Preaching a few months ago in the midst of a large congregation of [Wesleyan] Methodists, the brethren were all alive, giving all kinds of answers to my sermon, nodding their heads and crying, “Amen!” “Hallelujah!” “Glory be to God!” and the like…A part of the text led me to what is styled high doctrine. So I said, “this brings me to the doctrine of Election.”
      There was a deep drawing of breath. “Now, my friends, you believe it,” [I said]. They seemed to say, “No, we don’t.”
      “But you do, and I will make you sing ‘Hallelujah!’ over it. I will so preach it to you that you will acknowledge it and believe it.” So I put it thus: “Is there no difference between you and other men?”
      “Yes, yes; glory be to God, glory!”
      “There is a difference between what you were and what you are now?”
       “Oh, yes! yes!”
      “There is sitting by your side a man who has been to the same chapel as you have, heard the same gospel, he is unconverted, and you are converted. Who has made the difference, yourself or God?”
      “The Lord!” said they, “the Lord! Glory! Hallelujah!”
      “Yes!” I cried. “And that is the doctrine of Election; that is all I contend for, that if there be a difference the Lord made the difference.”
      A good man came up to me and said, “Thou’rt right, lad! Thou’rt right. I believe thy doctrine of Election; I do not believe it as it is preached by some people, but I believe that we must give the glory to God; we must put the crown on the right head.”

FANNY CROSBY (1820-1915): To God be the glory―great things He has done! O come to the Father thru Jesus the Son, and give Him the glory―great things He hath done!

 

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