April 12

Is Faith a Gift or Required for Salvation?



Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

Intro: 00:00:00 Welcome to the Plain Sense podcast where the life changing word of God is made accessible and understandable to all. Here is your host, Doctor Joel Madasu.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Plain Sense podcast. This is your host, Doctor Joel Madasu, I’m here today with our guest Pastor Dan Hanshew. He asked me to call him Dan. I’m going to refer to him Pastor Dan Hanshew. He’s with us and Pastor Hanshew thank you for your time again for coming onto the podcast to give us some insights.

Dan Hanshew: 00:00:32 Well, thanks for having me back. I always enjoyed being able to connect and contribute from what little I have to say to help whoever might possibly be listening.

Joel Madasu: 00:00:46 Thank you. Thank you. Today’s topic is going to be: Is Faith required or given. Is Faith required or given? One of the concerns that I have and I wanted to bring to the table here is some theologians believe that faith is given as a gift while others believe that it is required of a person to believe in Christ or to live out the Christian life. I want through this podcast, I want to clear that confusion, is faith gift or is faith given. If it is a gift of faith is gift, then why would Jesus in Mark 11:52 say have faith in God or in Mark 2:5. why would you say to the paralytic son, your sins are forgiven by seeing their faith. So there is a lot of confusion here, whether it is a gift or is required of man to put trust, to put faith in God. So I would like your thoughts on this topic. So is faith required or is it given as a gift?

Dan Hanshew: 00:01:51 Okay, well I’m just going to start talking here a little bit. You can interrupt anytime. Need me to maybe explain a little bit more or have a question. Sure. But when, when I hear the question, is faith a gift? And I think for most people that’s what it boils down to. Is Faith a gift? And, and when I hear that question, it’s kind of vague. It’s kind of ambiguous. So

Dan Hanshew: 00:02:23 my first answer is, well, it depends. It depends on the faith you’re talking about. Are you talking about faith in general or are you talking about a specific faith or faith that is for a specific purpose? And I think most would more or less agree to the answer that in general, faith is a gift from God in the sense that God has created man with the capacity for faith. He’s created man with the capacity to believe. Now, if you’re answering this question from the standpoint of faith for a specific purpose, then maybe our answer changes here a little bit. For instance, there are those who believe that God, not only gifts faith, to the Elect that they believe the gospel, but that he does it in such a way that the elect cannot help but exercise that faith. And so there we’ve, we’ve moved from the realm of faith in general to the topic of saving faith.

Dan Hanshew: 00:03:45 And I think when most people ask the question, it’s faith a gift they have in mind as the faith that is necessary for salvation. Is that a gift from God or not? And when they, when they asked that question is a gift, they’re asking the question, does God give them faith so that they can believe. You know, does he give faith so that they can believe, and this comes down to the issue of what comes first, regeneration or faith. And so that, that’s the basic theological issue. What comes first? Is it faith, then regeneration or is it regeneration and faith? And for those who are familiar with a Calvinistic theology, they will understand this to be irresistible grace, irresistible grace. Or sometimes it’s called in a softer Calvinistic sense, sometimes it’s called an effectual calling. That’s another label that is used. Uh, it’s, it’s tends to be a little bit softer than the explanation of irresistible grace.

Dan Hanshew: 00:05:02 And so the question whether God gives faith as a gift, as a really a question that involves us theological issue of irresistible grace. And you know, people can have other ideas when they asked that question. But when I hear that question, you know, from the people I’ve talked to, this is the issue. Irresistible grace, this regeneration come before grace does. Does. Um, does a person have to be born again in order to believe? Do they have to be made alive spiritually so that they can believe so that they can be saved? And I thought probably the best way to explain this is to look at a pretty extreme Calvinistic position. And so I’m just, I have it written down here and this is a quote for R. C. Sproul and his book. It’s a popular level book, but the book is entitled What Is Reformed Theology? So this is a quote from his book. I haven’t, I’m going to string a couple of quotes together, but I think I represent him correctly.

Dan Hanshew: 00:06:13 This is what Sproul says, “Monergenistic regeneration is exclusively a divine act. Man does not have the creative power God has. To quicken a person who is spiritually dead is something only God can do. A corpse cannot revive itself. It cannot even assist in the effort. It can only respond after receiving new life. Not only can it respond then, it most certainly will respond. In regeneration the soul of man is utterly passive until it has been made alive. It offers no help in reviving itself. The once revived, it is empowered to act and respond. Monegenistic regeneration has to do not with the whole process of redemption, but strictly with the initial condition or first step of our coming to faith. Regeneration must occur first before there can be any positive response of faith.” So these, these quotations are just representative of a Sproul’s position.

Dan Hanshew: 00:07:38 And I would encourage anybody who really wants to understand his, his argument is buy the book yourself and read it or check it out from the library or get it somehow and read it for yourself so you can see his entire argument. But here’s some things that we should notice just from this quotation of a well-respected, a Calvinistic, uh, highly reformed author. Um, (1) regeneration is an act of God alone. Man Doesn’t participate in this. And I think this is at a point that most people can agree with. I would agree with that statement. Regeneration as an act that got alone can do, man does not participate in his own regeneration. Um, another point that we see in those quotations is that a person who is spiritually dead can not respond in faith until after they’d been regenerated and once regenerated, they will certainly believe. And to this point, I have to disagree and even disagree strongly because it places regeneration before faith. A disagreement at this point, is first biblical and secondarily, it’s logical. As far as the biblical disagreement goes, I can find no passage in the Bible that clearly teaches regeneration comes before faith. Those passages that are often used as proof texts for this point, either fail to do the grammar or failed to take into account the grammar and syntax or the contextual features of the passage.

Dan Hanshew: 00:09:28 My logical disagreement is this. I understand that irresistible grace is logically built upon total inability, unconditional election to salvation and limited or particular atonement. But in the context quoted that I just quoted beforehand, I would just point out that just because God is the one who has to regenerate, does not automatically lead to regeneration coming before faith. It’s a, it’s a logical, um, misstep to say, well, since only God can regenerate, therefore regeneration has to come first. Well, that’s not necessarily true. You know, in order to make that connection, you have to believe and hold to that because of the fall of man, because of the fall man’s totally unable to believe even after he hears the Gospel. So you have to accept that as truth before you accept regeneration must come before faith. And so again, the real issue is whether the Bible teaches regeneration before faith. That is, the bottom line issue is that. The theological system is not the issue. The issue is what does the Bible say? Does the Bible teach that? And I would challenge any student of the Bible when you read these theological books on these theological topics that when these authors lists proof passages that you need to go back and check them. And if they give you their explanation of a proof passage, you’d still need to go back and even check that to make sure they’ve done their work of exegesis. So let me give you, let me give you an example. This was a firsthand example about this issue.

Dan Hanshew: 00:11:34 I was at a conference where there was a, very popular conservative Bible teacher who was teaching on regeneration. And, we came to the part where he was talking about the relationship of regeneration to faith. And, he, his conclusion was that regeneration comes before faith. And He, this, this particular person has even written a book on this issue. And, and one of the statements that he makes in his book is, apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel. Okay. So new birth, that’s regeneration. Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel. And he cites Ephesians 4:18 and 1 Corinthians 2:14 and maybe we’ll get a chance to look at those later. But there’s, there’s any, any number of passages that we can turn to or passages that are cited as proof texts by the extreme Calvinist that regeneration comes before faith, regeneration causes faith, and that the faith it causes will, uh, the person will most certainly as as R.C. Sproll puts it most certainly believe. And so, um, I just wanted to talk through a couple of the passages that, that you. So the first passage that we find that people go to when talking about this issue is John 1:12 and 13.

Dan Hanshew: 00:13:24 And, uh, this passage says, but as many “as received him to them, he gave the right to become children of God to those who believe in his name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” And so the, the extreme Calvinists says, see, they’re born of God. They’re born of God and um, and their theological system that that has to happen first. But if we pay attention to what the passage says, we find that in fact, belief or receiving has to come before they’re born of God. Right at the get go. You can see that it starts out, but as many as received him. So this whole phrase here is acting as the subject, you know, and the verb is he gave here, talking about Christ to them, he gave, he gave is the verb here.

Dan Hanshew: 00:14:42 And so to as many as received him, he gave to them the indirect object, the right, the direct object, the right to be children of God. So he gave them the authority, the power, the right, however we want to translate that word. He gave that to them so that they can be children of God. Then it goes on to say to those who believe in his name. Now this phrase here, starts with a dative participle. So it’s in the dative case and it’s connected back to, the phrase “to them,” which is also dative, which is also the indirect object. And so it’s giving more color, giving further qualification to that Pronoun, uh, to those who believe in his name. And then it says that, they were born and that’s an aorist participle. They were born, not and these ways, but they were born of God.

Dan Hanshew: 00:15:53 So the chronology here is pretty clear, I think. I think it’s pretty clear cut. Uh, you received Christ, which is the same thing as believing on his name. That comes first, followed then by Christ, giving them that believer, that receiver the authority or the right to be children of God. And finally they’re born of God. They become children of God. So before they can be born children of God, they have to have the right or the authority, the power to be able to have that happen. And that is received only through faith. And so they have to receive Christ. They have to believe on the name of Jesus Christ. And when that happens, he then gives them, he makes it so that they can be children of God and then they’re born of God. So I think it’s pretty straight forward that this passage cannot support the idea that regeneration comes before faith, but rather it actually supports the converse that faith must proceed

Dan Hanshew: 00:17:08 Regeneration must be perceived being born of God. Another very popular passage that talks about regeneration of course is John Chapter Three, John 3. And a, I’ve been, my throat’s been drought day, so you’ll see me take a drink every now and then. Um, and so in John 3, the key verses here to start with are verses three through eight. And they say this, Jesus answered and said to him, most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, there’s our word born again or possibly translated, born from above, you know, uh, I’m not going to get in a fist fight over that, unless one is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God. Nicodemus said to him, that is to Jesus. “How can a man be born when he’s old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born? Jesus answered most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the spirit, he cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

Dan Hanshew: 00:18:18 “that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it. They cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the spirit.” Now, I don’t think there’s really substantial disagreement with the idea that these verses teach, that God is the one who does the work of being born again. I think most people are going to agree with that. He’s the one that actually does that work. He’s the one that makes that happen. But the question is, is there anything that has to come before that, you know, is there anything that is, is a contingent relationship or conditional relationship with that idea of being born again and a quick look at the following verses reveal that Jesus connect this activity of God, of being born again, making people born again with the precondition of the person believing and I get my Bible here.

Dan Hanshew: 00:19:31 I didn’t print out these verses so I have to open up to John 3. I just want to point out some things in the following verses here real quickly. Picking up in verse 10 it says, “Jesus answered and said to him, are you the teacher of Israel? And do not know these things? Most assuredly I say to you, we speak what we know and testify what we have seen, and you do not receive our witness. If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how will you believe? If I tell you heavenly things, no one has ascended to heaven, but he who came from heaven, that is the son of man who is in heaven. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so the son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.” Verse 18, “he who believes in him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” And we can just stop right there. And so in those following versus, there’s a few things that we should note. First Jesus uses this, uses the analogy of Moses lifting up the bronze serpent and the wilderness from Numbers 21 and connection to him being lifted up on the cross. Okay. And then this old testament passage, the only ones who live where those who looked up at the serpent.

Dan Hanshew: 00:21:26 So the question, is this where they saved before or after they looked up at the serpent? Well, the text of the Old Testament is clear. It was after they looked up and they had that choice of whether they were going to look up or not. The implication was that all those who were bitten by the fiery serpents, which by the way, God had sent in judgment, those who were bitten by the fiery serpents and did not look up at the bronze serpent died. And so notice that Jesus connects looking to the bronze serpent for salvation with believing for salvation, for receiving everlasting life. So Jesus goes on to explain this in verse 16 by saying only those who believe have ever lasting life. And in verse 18, it’s belief that is necessary to avoid condemnation. And that those who do not believe are condemned already. And so this seems to clearly indicate that before belief, you are condemned.

Dan Hanshew: 00:22:35 Now, if regeneration comes before faith, then you can have someone who is regenerated and still condemned, still destined for hell. So how do you do? What do you do with that? Um, and I, I think the, the, uh, extreme Calvinist answer is, well, that regeneration and the belief, they happen so close together, it’s almost like a simultaneous activity. And so when you have regeneration, there’s the assumption of faith. And you most certainly will believe, but still, you know, they’re downplaying the chronological order and favor of the logical order. But my point would be there’s still order, there’s still an order. There’s still a sequence. And, and even if these two events are only separated by milliseconds, you still have a regenerate unbeliever who is destined to hell, even if it’s for a millisecond. And to me, to me that’s forcing your theological point onto the text.

Dan Hanshew: 00:23:51 I don’t think, I don’t think that was the idea that John would have at all. Uh, so we see in John 3 that this passage cannot properly be used to support the idea of faith or excuse me, support the idea of regeneration, proceeding faith and, and then really if it’s suggesting anything about the order of those two things. And I don’t, I don’t necessarily think that’s the point either. I don’t think that John’s trying to say faith comes before regeneration here necessarily. But if this passes suggests anything about the order of faith and regeneration, it is indicating that faith comes first. You have to believe in order to be regenerating. Jesus explains here what is necessary to be born again. You must believe to be born again. This in no way detracts from the fact that regeneration itself, that the, the act of, giving a person new life is a work of God alone.

Dan Hanshew: 00:24:58 And that still stands just because you have to believe in order to receive that doesn’t mean that you’ve taken part in any way and, and making sure that, uh, you are born again, God still does the work of being born again. So, anyway, I have a, let me look here at how many verses i have wrote out here. I have a few more verses that we could go through, um, or i have five more, six more versus we could go through, but, uh, you know, I don’t want to beat the dead horse too, too long. I tried to pick versus that are fairly controversial on this topic and a, those two verses I think are fairly controversial because everybody pretty much admits that, uh, these two verses, especially John 1 it sort of sets the tone. John 1 is as sort of the, um, theological summary of the rest of the Gospel of John.

Dan Hanshew: 00:26:08 So if it indicates something of theological importance, it, it sort of controls the rest of the book and you can expect the rest of the book to basically say what that says. And then we have John 3 and that’s just such a common passage that people just know John 3:16 unbelievers know John 3:16 and so, um, I thought that was important to deal with. Another one that is really, um, controversial if we want to get into more controversial here is John 6. All right, let’s get into it. John Chapter six, verse 44 and 65. Now these verses, I didn’t pick these verses out as suggesting anything about regeneration and faith. Um, these are verses that I found and you know, the, the work of extreme Calvinists as support for their position.

Joel Madasu: 00:27:10 Did you say 44 or 43, 42

Dan Hanshew: 00:27:13 44 is what they put. And then verse 65. So, um, John 6:44 says “no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.” Um, many have a difficulty with this verse of course, but I think this is often caused by the failure to understand that the key point in this passage is not the father drawing or, or how people are getting saved. But it’s the fact that what belongs to Jesus will certainly be raised up on the last day. That’s really the key phrase in here. I will raise up unless it’s repeated over and over and over again. And the passage, um, I should have counted how many times, but as you read down through the passage, you can’t miss it. He says it over and over again.

Dan Hanshew: 00:28:17 And some important things to note as we lead up to verse 44 is this. (1) Jesus is talking to a crowd of unbelievers. Verse 36 tells us that says, um, “but I say to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.” So there are unbelievers. Um, the next thing we notice in verse 37 says, “all that the father gives me will come to me. And the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out.” And I would simply point out here that that the word “all” is neuter. So it’s everything or all things. Um, and it’s not talking about a person there. If he were talking about people, we would expect him probably to use the masculine as a generic, masculine for all people. So because of, because he uses a neuter, this is just a statement of general truth.

Dan Hanshew: 00:29:16 Everything that the father gives to Jesus will come to Jesus. Another way to put it as Jesus, will get all that the father gives to it. So that’s, that’s all it’s saying. Um, as we come to, um, the second part of verse 37, Jesus narrows the focus to people who come to him and he says, these will not be cast out. So it is kind of, look at it. All the father gives me will come to me. Okay. And the one that’s talking about people, now we’re talking about people, uh, all is things, but then he says, and the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast out. Then verse 38 “for I have come down from heaven, not to do my will, but the will of him who sent me.” So we’re dealing with what the will of God is here.

Dan Hanshew: 00:30:11 So that’s a pretty important thing to that this is the will of God. Then notice verse 30 then, and this is the will of the father who sent me that of all, and that’s the same all as in the beginning of verse 37. So it’s a neuter, um, that of all he has given to me. I should lose nothing but should raise it up at the last day. And clearly in verse 39, it’s just, it’s a generic statement that whenever the father gives the son, the son won’t lose any of it and he’s going to raise it up on the last day. Which to me has interesting eschatological implications because it’s talking to, they seem to be talking about either stuff or just a broad general statement.

Dan Hanshew: 00:31:08 And then we come to verse 40. Notice what it says here, and this is the will of him who sent me. So this was the will of God that everyone who sees the son and believes in him may have everlasting life and I will raise him up on the last day. So in 40 everyone who sees him believes Jesus will have everlasting life. So far the focus here is whatever the father gives to the son, the son keeps, he doesn’t lose and he’s going to raise it up on last day. And the person who comes to Jesus, that’s what it says in the first part. Then in the second part it, it narrows that down. It specifies that and says the one who sees and believes Jesus will be saved will have everlasting life and will be raised up on the last day. So you get the point of being raised up on the last day over and over again.

Dan Hanshew: 00:32:06 And so they express will the father here is certain and there are two things, two expressions of his will, number one, that all that he gives Jesus, it belongs to Jesus and he’s not going to lose any of that and it’s going to be raised up on the last day. And the second expression of his will. So if anybody asks you, what is the will of God, you know what the will of God is here. Will of God is whoever comes to Jesus and belief will have everlasting life and be raised up on last day. Now there’s nothing in here stated about any type of regeneration at all. But now we come to verse 44. So if we drop down to verse 44 and the question is, well, who comes to Jesus and how can they come? So we see verse 44 no one can come to me.

Dan Hanshew: 00:33:01 This is Jesus speaking. No one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up on the last day. So in order for people to come to Jesus, it says that the father must draw them with the implication that those who come will be raised up. Now it does not say those who are drawn. It doesn’t say all those who are drawn will be raised up.

Joel Madasu: 00:33:33 Right. That’s a good point. Yeah.

Dan Hanshew: 00:33:34 It says no one can come unless they’re drawn. So the ones who come will be raised up, but it doesn’t really say the number or specify who’s going to be drawn. So that’s the question. Who and how does God draw? And of course this is the extreme Calvinists here is going to say this is, this drawing is in some way regeneration. You know, some way he is regenerating them. It fits in there somehow. The problem with that is that John explains, or actually Jesus explains himself what he means here when he talks about John. Look at the next verse. Also you got to do is read the content. The next verse, Verse 45, “it is written in the prophets and they shall all be taught by God. Therefore, everyone who has heard and learned from the father comes to me.” So we notice a few things here. Number one, when Jesus says, no one can come to me unless the father draws, the father who sent me, sent me, draws him and I will raise him up on last day. He, he immediately says, and it’s written in the prophets and you know, Jesus says the prophets here, but actually it comes out of Isaiah. So this, this is from Isaiah. And so Jesus goes back to the Old Testament to prove his point here and he says, they shall all be taught by God.

Dan Hanshew: 00:35:12 Now, I would point out that Jesus’ explanation, He considers the fact that just because someone’s taught does it mean they learned. You know, and so what Jesus is doing here is talking about all Israel is going to be talking to God. He has taught them, you know, and then it goes on Jesus, therefore, so he’s given an explanation here, Therefore everyone and notice two things have to happen. Everyone who has heard and learned from the father, um, lost my place, learn from the father comes to me. So Jesus says it, you can’t just hear you have to also learn. So you got to have both of them. You have to hear and learn. If you just hear, you don’t come. You know, you have to also learn. And so, you know, the Old Testament and then Jesus’ explanation of the Old Testament is that at the old testament is saying, God, I would take it as this God is drawing people. He’s drawn all people. But the only ones who actually come are the ones who hear the ones who hear and learn. They listen, they respond to the message of God. And so I would take this not as a some type of narrowing who comes or, or who God draws, but it’s actually an expansive and it expands the idea of God’s drawing that God draws all people and it uses the word of God. Jesus. Jesus is using the word of God to explain how God draws and God draws through his word. So, um, I would say in conclusion to this that God draws all men through his word, but only those who come to Jesus and are therefore will be raised up on the last day. And it’s these who hear and learn those who hear and respond to what they’ve heard. These are the ones who come and the ones who ultimately have salvation.

Dan Hanshew: 00:37:42 And so the next verse, verse 65 is that the next first that you see connected with verse 44 by the extreme Calvinists, and I say extreme Calvinists because there are those out there who would claim to be Calvinists, but not hold to this point. You know, they just say they are Calvanists. And so I want to make sure I’m not talking about those people. I’m talking about those people, the people who would be 5 pointers or 10 pointers or whatever you want to call them. Uh, and even among those, there are some who are much harsher than others. And so I’m after the extremes here. But in verse 65, um, it says this, see if I can find it in my Bible here, here it is. And he said, therefore, I have said to you that no one can come to me unless it has been to him by my father. And the thing we got to remember is no, verse 65 comes after verse 44 and 45, you know, there’s an order. And so verse 65 has to be understood in light of these other versus, and notice the emphasis on belief in the preceding verse. So that was verse 65 and you look up in verse 64 and it says, but there are some who did not believe, who do not believe for Jesus knew from the beginning they who would did not believe and would betray him. So Jesus knew from the beginning, and it’s talking about Judas Iscariot here. So we’re narrowing it down. He knew from the beginning not only that Judas wouldn’t believe, but that Judas would also betray him.

Joel Madasu: 00:39:31 Hmm.

Dan Hanshew: 00:39:32 Uh, but notice even with Judas, there’s the exercise of unbelief. You know, they’re choosing to not believe. And so Jesus has not limiting who can be saved here, he’s not limiting who the Father has granted to come to him, but rather that in order to come to him, one has to follow the plan that the father has laid out. That’s all it says. You know, if you want to come to Jesus, you have to do it the way the Father has given. He has granted that is how you come to Jesus. So that’s usually a pretty, pretty touchy, uh, passage, but, uh, you know, as I study it and really there’s no way that I’m getting regeneration before faith out of that passage. I think it, you really have to twist it in order to make that happen.

Joel Madasu: 00:40:27 What I see from this passage that we just been through is, there’s certain element of human acts towards it.

Dan Hanshew: 00:40:36 Oh, most definitely.

Joel Madasu: 00:40:37 For example: Listening and learning, right? So, so there’s, there’s, or there’s some aspect of um, oh, human input,

Dan Hanshew: 00:40:48 Right. So I mean the, the, yeah, a big issue that comes up I think is that when you talk about things like faith,

Joel Madasu: 00:40:58 hmm.

Dan Hanshew: 00:40:59 When you talk about things like love and obedience, um, all these things, all these concept require a free action, a free choice from apart of the person now. So, mmm. Is it love if I’m made to love you? No, it’s not. Not. Um, what is, what is obedience that is demanded. If somebody tells you to do something, um, you can obey or you can just comply, you know? Um, and the difference between compliance and obedience is, obedience has done from the heart.You know, that’s a hard choice and that has to be a free choice that you make. If you can’t make that choice, then it’s, then you’re just complying or you’re being coerced, you’re coerced or it’s, you’re complying. But it’s not obedient. Faith is the same way. Faith requires the person to exercise that free choice to believe. I mean, it’s sort of built into the word, the definition of the word is he, this, it has to be something that you do. Um, nowhere in the Bible when it talks about salvation and even what men must do to be saved, can anybody do it for you? It has to be your own personal decision. And you know, that’s the, that’s the crux of the issue. The extreme Calvinists say no, you’re so totally unable because of the fall. You’re, you’re so deprived, you’re so totally unable, you’re dead in your trespasses and sin. And this means you can’t even respond to the Gospel. And for me, a big problem with that is the Bible seems to present the Gospel as a choice, a real choice that men can make to receive or reject. You know, and to me, um, any type of salvation that’s coerced or any grace that, or faith that is coerced, it’s really a, um, a black mark. You’re putting in a black mark on the character of God because God commands you to preach to all men.

Dan Hanshew: 00:43:36 And it says that he would that all come to repentance. Well, does he or doesn’t He? You know, the language seems pretty clear and the Bible that God doesn’t desire any to perish, but that all come to repentance and knowledge. True. You know, it seems pretty clear in the Bible that this as well. Is that true or not? So if I go out here and I just preached anybody and only a handful of them are the elect, you know, and I tell them all though, I tell each one, if you believe you’ll be saved. Whosoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. Pretty clear. Romans chapter 10. Um, well, is that true or not? Now, if it’s not true and God knows it’s not true, and he knows it’s not true because He hasn’t elected those people to believe, but He still says go out and tell them. If they do believe they’ll be saved. What’s that say about a God that does it like that, you know, to me, that impinges upon his character. He’s no longer a god of integrity, Yeah. So anyway, that’s one of the issues I think that comes up in the end, the extreme Calvinistic system. Um, but I, I would see man’s response is, goes hand in hand with the Gospel. The Gospel is the power of God to salvation. And I’ve told people in the past, and to me it doesn’t really matter so much if man is a free, has libertarian fee will in general. but when it comes to the Gospel, the Gospel itself enables men to respond. You know, it’s the power of God to salvation, you know? And so even, even if man, isn’t free to choose what he wants to do throughout his life, in some way, God’s determined all of this. Um, which I, I don’t believe, I don’t think that’s true, but even if it were, when it comes to the Gospel, it can’t be true. Men have to have the ability to respond to the Gospel. And, and I, my personal feeling is that any position, that rejects that as sort of a, an arrogant position to think that, oh, you’re one of the elect. Well, how do you know you’re the elect? You don’t, you don’t know. You’re the elect. Nowhere does it say, this is how you know you’re the elect. You know, that, that’s not what the Bible talks about.

Dan Hanshew: 00:46:27 And so, um, there’s a misunderstanding connected with that word too. But anyway, um, some people will still reject and they point to Acts 16:14 as an example of a personal example of how God had to, uh, reach in to a person and change their heart so that they would believe. And so this is Lydia. And so Acts 16:14 it says this now, a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And so people will understand this as saying the Lord opened her heart to heat and that they would take that to believe the things spoken by Paul. Well, let me give you a more literal translation cause I think it helps. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple in the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God. She heard, you know, she heard she was listing who this Lydia, who the Lord opened her heart and that word, he, that would translate to pay attention to the things spoken by Paul. And so I don’t think this is an act of God where He is regenerating her. I think this is an act of God where He is working with her response. Notice that notice the, the description of her before her heart’s open. It says she’s a worshiper of God. She was already responding to God. And so the Lord just worked in her heart so that she would pay attention to Paul and what he was saying. Um, you know, and so the verb here to heed or to pay attention, used 24 times in the new testament and it’s never used in place of the verb to believe it. Never substitute, believe to believe right into where it says to heed you just can’t do it.

Dan Hanshew: 00:49:05 In fact, a, and I’ll show you specifically here and Acts chapter eight. If I can turn there real quick. Acts Chapter Eight, I believe it starts in verse six. Of course, this is the account of Philip going to the city of Samaria and preaching. It mentions, um, three times that mentioned this word to heed three times and is used to expressly and distinction from believe. And so, and, and, and chapter eight verse six, it says, the crowds paid attention to the things that Philip preached because they heard and saw the miracles that he did. So they didn’t, they have not believed. They paid attention because of what he’s doing. Um, and verses 10 and 11, the same people paid attention. There’s our word paid attention to Simon the sorcerer because he amazed them with his sorcery. So mentioned that that word heed to heed and both 10 and 11. Um, so if that word to heat is the same thing as believing what did they believe in Simon the sorcerer? Or is that what it’s saying? That they believed in him or just that they paid attention to it. But when you look at verse 12 it specifically mentions that when people believe they were baptized and even Simon believed it was. So, it wasn’t that they paid attention. It was that they believed.

Joel Madasu: 00:50:53 Right.

Dan Hanshew: 00:50:53 And so this, this is instructive to us about how this word is used. This word to heed is used in conjunction with the idea of believing. They’re not, they’re not the same thing. And so in acts 16 verse 14 when it talks about, do I get that right 16:14, when it talks about Lydia having her heart open to heed the things spoken by Paul. We can’t just assume that’s talking about belief because if it is, it wouldn’t be the only place in the new testament where this word to heed is used for the idea of believing. And, and um, in verse 15, it says, and when she and her household were baptized, she begged us saying no. Some people would argue that, well, she’s baptized in verse 15. She must’ve believed earlier than that. So verse 14 is where she believed, when it talks about the heed. Well, you know, he’s just not talking about, he does just doesn’t mention her belief. That’s not a big deal. No, it’s clear from her baptism that she believed. Baptism at this point, it’s very clear that if you’re baptized, you have already believed. It doesn’t mean that when it says the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. Doesn’t mean that she believed

Joel Madasu: 00:52:22 There’s an interesting point. She said right down at the same verse, If you consider me a believer in the Lord, yeah. why “if”? But it’s interesting.

Dan Hanshew: 00:52:34 Yeah. And so, um, I don’t think anybody denies that the Lord did a work in the heart of Lydia. I think that’s clear. I don’t think anybody’s going to deny that, but that’s not the same thing as the Lord basically circumventing her own will and regenerating her so that she has to believe. And that’s the idea that the extreme Calvinists has come up with. Hmm. You have to do that. So this, this idea of faith, faith is a gift because God give man every man the ability to exercise faith. But when it comes to faith for salvation, God does not give an extra special gift, some way that certain people can believe and other people can’t. Um, God does not give some people the faith for belief and to salvation and others he just ignores. That’s not, that’s not what we see in the Bible. Um, and the idea that regeneration comes before faith, at least from the passages we’ve looked at so far, it’s just not demonstrably. You just can’t prove it, you know. However, it does seem it might not come out and say faith and then regeneration. But when you look at the Bible as a whole, it certainly paints the picture that faith is the condition for salvation and that regeneration as a part of yourself salvation. That’s the picture that the Bible gets out of the whole. I mean, when we talk about this regeneration and faith issue, so it’s, we’re in the book of acts. We can also ask the question about Cornelius. He’s only a few chapters back from Lydia and Acts chapter 10 and 11. Was Cornelius regenerated before he believed? Well here, here’s the deal with that. God tells Peter to go to Cornelius to preach the Gospel to him so that he would believe. So if Cornelius is regenerated before he believes. When is the regenerated before he believes? Is he regenerated at the beginning of chapter 10 where God responds to him. Cornelius is trying to be a faithful worshiper of God and God responds to it. And sends Peter to spread the Gospel, share the gospel with him and he believes. So it seems to me that the only way you can get regeneration before faith in the instance of Cornelius is because your theology says it has to be that way, you know, and, and not the text of the Bible.

Dan Hanshew: 00:55:32 Another passage that comes up that people struggle with is in 1 Corinthians 2, verse 14, and I don’t know how much time we have left here. I can cut this down a little bit if I need to.

Joel Madasu: 00:55:50 We can go on and on.

Dan Hanshew: 00:55:53 Uh, well you might have to divide this up so people have time to listen to it. So 1 Corinthians 2:14, it says, “but the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned.” And so the question here becomes, who is the natural man, you know, and what are the things of the spirit? And so some people say the natural man is the unbeliever and the things of the spirit include the Gospel. And so they say that the unbeliever or the unregenerate man, really the unregenerate man cannot receive the things of God, which is the including the Gospel. So without being regenerated, they cannot accept the gospel. Now I think there’s a few issues with this. Uh, first in this chapter, the topic at hand is the wisdom of God. So we find, um, this wisdom of God back in verse six, however we speak wisdom among those who are mature. So now there’s connection, wisdom, and mature. Now as he just as is the term mature, does that mean believer or is it talking about immature believer? No. Is it just a believer? So wisdom, the wisdom of God is just for the believer or is the wisdom of God being spoken of here for the mature believer? Well, when you go on to chapter three, it seems to be very clear that he’s talking about a mature believer because he uses the other extreme babes. We have the Babes in chapter three, and you have mature believer in chapter two. So, um, you know, Paul’s point is that the Corinthians here are not natural men. And have in fact the mind of Christ and therefore should accept and understand the wisdom of God, that they should be understanding these things, but they’re babes. Um, they haven’t attained to the maturity level that they should have attained too. So Paul is saying to them, the natural man, the, the person who’s an unbeliever, this person does not receive these things of God. He’s not, there’s nothing in here that suggested anything about a salvific context at all. He, he’s not talking about the gospel here. He’s talking about these things that the Corinthians, uh, should have because they’re not natural men. There, there were born again believers. Um, and so to me this isn’t a great passage for people who want to prove that an unbeliever can’t receive the, because it’s not talking about the gospel. He’s talking about, he’s talking about, um, Christian life truth. If I can put it that way. You know, it’s not talking about the wisdom of God for initiation into the Christian faith is talking about, um, uh, more of the milk or excuse me, the meat of the Christian faith.

Dan Hanshew: 00:59:44 And so, um, 1 Corinthians 2:14 that, that, that’s not a good argument to say that regeneration has to happen before faith. And of course there’s everybody’s favorite. And I’ll just mention this in passing, and that’s Ephesians 2:8 and 9.

Joel Madasu: 01:00:03 Are we really going to get into it?

Dan Hanshew: 01:00:05 I’m just going to, I’m going to run over it here quickly. And of course the, the issue is where it says “for by grace you have been saved through faith and that and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.” So what is the gift of God? Well, the thing that is the gift of God is that Pronoun “that.” And so then we ask, well, what, what is the Pronoun “that” referring back to? Well, it can’t be referring back to either grace or faith because, uh, that, uh, is neuter and grace and faith are both feminine. And so pronouns have to agree with her reference and gender, you know, unless something really strange is happening and then we can have an exception. But this is not, nobody thinks there’s an exception happening here. And so most scholars believe that, most scholars believe the pronoun that refers to the whole concept of salvation, that this whole idea of salvation is a gift of God. And, uh, I, I have read commentaries from a Bible teachers who will go through their commentary and they explain all of this. And in their commentary they still end up saying, well, faith is a gift from, this saving faith is a gift of God. And they say that’s, that’s part of the passage. And I’m saying, I look at that and say, that’s not part of the passage. You know, you’re reading that in, your, you’re assuming that that’s not what the passage says. So you just added to the passage because of your theological position. You can hold that position, that faith saving faith is a gift from God and extra special gift from God. You can hold that position. Just don’t say Ephesians 2:8 says that. That’s, that’s, that’s the only problem. You know, you can’t say that this particular passage says that because that’s not what it says. Um, so anyway, that was pretty straight forward. The problem is that people tried to say, since salvation is a gift, everything involved in salvation is a gift. Well, the fact of the matter is the way the Bible presents salvation, Faith is not part of salvation. Faith is a condition for salvation. So even if you say salvation is the gift, you can’t just say, well, faith is involved in that. Now, but probably the most difficult one. I probably should have started with this, but the most difficult one to explain as 1 John 5:1.

Dan Hanshew: 01:03:18 And, um, I have a, I have a little personal story that this one, let me get it. Let me get my Bible here. And, uh, I don’t, I don’t, I’m not a name dropper and I don’t know why anybody would pay any attention to anything, I have to say anyway. But, um, I was at a conference in John Piper was the speaker and, uh, John Piper was talking about regeneration and he said his point being at one part that regeneration comes before faith. And this was his proof passage. And, um, I was sitting there and had my Greek New Testament out and I heard him say that. And I’m like, but that doesn’t seem right. That’s something, what’s going on here? It doesn’t seem that that can be right. Um, and then I started looking and identifying the participle in the verb and everything that’s happening in here and it’s like this, that’s not right.

Dan Hanshew: 01:04:34 Then as he’s explaining this, he quotes as his authority for his position. He quotes John Stott. So John Stott wrote in a commentary that this passage proves that regeneration comes before faith. And this was a Pastors conference. So I’m thinking, I know, I know John Piper can do exegesis. And so it is disappointing that he didn’t do exegesis here, he just put, I mean, if it was a church context, I can understand that he wouldn’t want to get into all that. But this was a Pastors conference. So even if the didn’t know Greek, they certainly could appreciate the explanation of the passage, but he just quoted John Stott and it’s like this. And, and what made it even worse as he gets to the conclusion and say and says, well, basically it all happens at the same time.

Dan Hanshew: 01:05:36 Like what? You know, and we still need to go tell people that they need to believe in Jesus Christ in order to be saved. You know, you still have to tell people that. And it was just a, it was, it was, um, he lost me for the rest of the conference when he did that because I’m looking at my Greek New Testament, and I’m not a Greek scholar by any stretch of imagination, but you know, I know a little bit of something about grammar and syntax and I’m like, this is not, you can’t make a point that he’s trying to make from this passage. And, uh, you know, the issue is where it says in this verse, “Whoever believes that Jesus Christ, that Jesus is the Christ is born of God.” So that’s really the phrase in question. And you know, the, the, the issue here is that whoever believes, that word believes is a present participle and the word born is born in the NKJV should be translated, uh, has been born, you know, because it’s a perfect passive indicative.

Dan Hanshew: 01:07:03 And so, uh, I think most, you know, Greek students who’ve had two years of Greek understand that, uh, you have a participle and a finite verb. And the finite verb is the controlling verb. It controls participle, and that the time of the participle is relative to the finite verb, you know? Uh, so the participle sorta gets its time relationship, it’s time aspect from the finite verb. And so people will argue, well, since it is whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God and this was a perfect tense. So it talks about, uh, an action completed in the past with the results that come up to the time of the writing from the perspective of the author. Um, so this is something that happened in the past and this is a present tense participle. So it must be happening now. And so therefore, the having been born comes before the, uh, present participle. Now there’s a bunch of, can be complicated, uh, grammar and syntax that go into this. But let me just summarize it all and say that number one, the present participle normally is contemporaneous. If it, if it has a time indication with the finite verb, in this case, a perfect passive indicative verb, the participle indicates contemporaneous action to it. So basically that means that this having been born in this believing are occurring at the same time, you know, there’s that you can’t make a time distinction between the two, but that’s not the point. The point isn’t to make a time distinction between the two. The point actually is that, those who have been born there just believing aspect that goes along with it. So, uh, so I would make that also, we, we should be careful to note that this could be just a straight substantive participle, you know, so that just simply means that the participant was acting like a verb or excuse me, like a noun. And so it could be the believer, um, and maybe something like this, um, all believers, all believers have been born of God. And so that doesn’t help. I mean, it doesn’t help with the order. What comes first as acting as a noun. But, uh, there’s a, a pastor and a college teacher, maybe, maybe seminary, uh, I think he may be an adjunct at Gordon Conwell or something. Um, and I don’t know if I’m going to say his name right, but his first name’s Brian Abasciano or something like that. He’s written an article and he explores all the grammatical possibilities of this particular phrase. And you know, he, he basically says in there that the most likely conclusion is, this isn’t saying anything about time, the timing of these events, but if the grammar here and the syntax here did say anything about time, it would be indicating that faith would come before regeneration.

Dan Hanshew: 01:11:03 Uh, so faith comes before being born of God and part of that deals, it has to deal with the whosoever part that it said in Greek pas ha pisti oun. So. And that’s a, that serves a contingency aspect with the pas there. So anyway, and, and it’s, it would take an hour just to go through that. But needless to say, at at a minimum, at a minimum, this verse can not be used to prove that regeneration comes before faith. You know, at a minimum it can’t prove that. And at a maximum, if we would accept the maximum, it would be proving the opposite. I personally think it’s somewhere in the middle. It’s not really speaking about the order of events here at all. I don’t think. And that’s what we find throughout, uh, John’s epistles as he uses this construction. Um, two, two more times in First John, he’s not talking about order of things at all, you know, and, and so it doesn’t prove the point, but so, you know, at the end of the day, my conclusion, I think it’s clear to everybody that our regeneration does not come before faith. The Bible doesn’t teach that. Um, from my perspective, and I have friends who would disagree with that, but, uh, and I’m happy to have, um, discussions about that, especially discussions about the text of scripture and what does it say. I really don’t care what theologians say, um, as far as how it fits into their system, how their system has to work. I really don’t care how system theological systems have to work. Um, and that doesn’t mean I don’t care about theology, I just don’t care how the systems work. But what I do care about is what the inspired word of God says and understanding that. And if the word of God says something and the difficulty, it presents a difficulty with my system. And, and the reality is we all systemize our theology. We all try to make it go together and fit in a nice package. But if there’s a problem with the passage of Scripture and it puts tension into my theological system, well, you know, the theological system has to be in err, not the passage. Right. You know, and, um, that’s the problem with systems systems. Like they’d like to be systems, right? They’re like coherence congruency and systemization. And when you start picking away at that, you know, they, they react. They don’t, they don’t like that. So, but, uh, so I would say, you know, any concluding remarks would be that faith in general could be seen as a gift of God because God, I believe, gives all men the ability at a, at a minimum to respond in faith to the Gospel.

Joel Madasu: 01:14:24 Hmm.

Dan Hanshew: 01:14:26 However, I do not believe that the Bible teaches that you are regenerated so that you can have faith or for that God gives a special extra measure of faith to the elect so that they can believe. I don’t believe that. I don’t think the Bible teaches that.

Joel Madasu: 01:14:49 My thought is if that’s the case, it would be hard, at least for me, to believe that when God says I don’t want anyone to perish.

Dan Hanshew: 01:14:59 Right.

Joel Madasu: 01:14:59 See, I mean he say’s in the text that he, he desires, they want to be saved all to be saved. Right. So if he gives this extra special measure of faith to this certain group and not to this one, then that’s contradicting what he is saying. That I don’t want anyone to perish.

Dan Hanshew: 01:15:21 Especially when, when the implication is he’s already determined who’s going to be saved. And if, if, if there’s only two options and he’s already determined who’s gone to option a, then that by default everybody else goes to option B, you know? So even if you don’t want to say that God determines who goes to hell in that system, at the end of the day he does.

Joel Madasu: 01:15:47 Hmm.

Dan Hanshew: 01:15:48 And then you had the inconsistency with the character of God. And to me that’s the biggest problem, not just, Ah, you know, as a thought about this over several years now, you know, the real thing that, that kind of bothers me more is the implications that this kind of thinking has on the very character of God. Okay. And you know, you can’t say, well, God’s doing this for his glory and we don’t understand it. I don’t accept that kind of reasoning because he’s given us his Word to understand. He’s not the author of confusion. He doesn’t give us his Word to confuse us. Most certainly he doesn’t give us his Word to confuses about salvation, you know? And so I don’t reject the idea of, or I don’t accept the idea that, well, we just, we can’t understand this because his ways are to higher than ours. We’re talking about salvation. We’re not talking about what in the world would compel him to love us. Yeah. We don’t understand that. But the Bible never says why.

Joel Madasu: 01:17:06 Hmm.

Dan Hanshew: 01:17:07 But the Bible talks a lot about salvation and explains a lot about salvation. So you know, we have to go with what it says. You know, and, and not reject the parts we don’t like and say, well, we can’t understand it so.

Joel Madasu: 01:17:33 Well, that’s great. I know that this is a Hot topic or, um, it’s a complicated topic, but thank you for bringing in insights on this particular topic, and those who are listening. I hope if you have questions about this whether faith is a gift or required, I hope those questions are answered and Pastor Hanshew thank you for taking time and for answering this question. I think we can still talk about that, maybe, maybe just focused on 1 John 5:1!

Dan Hanshew: 01:18:07 Well, that would take a entire podcast in itself and probably needs visual aids.

Joel Madasu: 01:18:15 I’m ready for it. I would like to clear that this confusion that is the thing, because as you’re saying, we can’t work towards having the system be in one place.

Joel Madasu: 01:18:32 I mean it’s, the system is not, shouldn’t be. Um, what is the defining factor of, you know, it shouldn’t define the text.

Dan Hanshew: 01:18:40 Right. You know, it’s, it’s fun to have a system and we all are going to make a system that will do it. Let the fall. We just, as human beings, that’s the way our mind works. That the question is whether we should have a systematic theology or a well ordered theology. That’s not the question. The question becomes what happens when my system of theology comes into tension with the word of God? Who Wins that battle and do, do I have to do exegetical gymnastics to make the text fit, you know, uh, my particular theological perspective. So, and, and you can’t do that. You can’t, you can’t do that.

Joel Madasu: 01:19:38 Right, right, right. Well, is there anything else that you want to share now?

Dan Hanshew: 01:19:45 Well, if you, uh, if you send me, um, help mail, I’ll respond to that. I just don’t accept hate mail.

Joel Madasu: 01:19:57 Sure. Yeah. I mean those are who are listening to this podcast. If you have questions, please let us know. We respond to, uh, like Pastor Hanshew has just said help notes. We will respond, but thank you. Thank you so much for your time and for dealing with this topic. And again, I hope and pray that this topic will be, and this discussion is going to be helpful for those who are wanting to learn more about faith, whether it’s gift or given or what’s going on with that faith concept. So if you have questions, please write to us and Pastor Hanshew, thank you so much for your time. We will hope to see you again maybe with a as first John Five, one day, Lord willing. So, um, once again, thank you all for listening to this and Pastor Hanshew thank you. And may God bless you all. Thank you.

About the author 

Joel Madasu

Joel Madasu is a third generation Christian. His desire is to teach the Bible as it is given. He is passionate about people, discipleship and relevant communication of God’s truth – his Word, the Bible.

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