Sent: Thursday, April 21, 2005 1:34 PM

In a message dated 4/21/2005 7:46:11 AM Central Daylight Time, a brother writes:

I've always wondered about John 6:44.  Does the Greek suggest something different?  How does the unregenerant hear the call?  ---"Only my sheep hear my call"--is this in the Bible?

This question relates to what is often called "monergism" in various writings which attempt to expound about the New Birth. The term refers to the fact that the efficient power in the New Birth is the Holy Spirit. But "monergism" does not imply the idea of a "direct operation" before, without, or apart from "means" or instrumentality; rather, it simply means that all of the regenerating power is of the Holy Spirit. The unregenerate hear the call because the Holy Spirit's power accompanies the Gospel, or Word of God (1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Thessalonians 2:13, 14).

The case of Lazarus is a good parallel to a sinner's being born again by means of hearing the Word. Lazarus was dead, but when the Word of Christ went forth, power accompanied that Word and Lazarus obeyed it. The instrumentality of his being raised from the dead was the Word, accompanied by the efficient power of the Spirit of God.

I was recently reading on the Internet a rather good sermon on the raising of Lazarus, and the brother said:

>>Second, the miracle of the raising of Lazarus shows that all raisings from the dead, including all raisings from spiritual death through the new birth, are monergistic. When someone is raised to life in Christ by the new birth, it is done by the power of God in Christ alone. There is no other cause. The cause of the new birth is the power of God in Christ alone! That's monergism!>>

That is certainly true . . . so far as it goes. Unfortunately, this particular sermon, good as it is otherwise, was somewhat lacking, for it does not emphasize the parallel of the necessary instrumentality used in the monergistic action of raising Lazarus -- namely, the Word spoken by Christ, "Lazarus, come forth!"

The parallel to this Word to Lazarus is the Gospel preached to the sinner. As Lazarus was instrumentally raised by the Word of Christ, so the sinner is raised or given new life by the instrumentality of the Gospel, or Word.

When we talk about "monergism" -- especially in regard to the New Birth -- it is important to emphasize that while all the efficient power in the New Birth is of God, He does not work apart from instrumentality, and this instrument is the Word of His power. He does not simply reach out and give a new birth to a person without the use of the instrumental means of His Word. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16) and men are "begotten" thru it as the means (1 Cor. 4:15).

God created this world by the instrumentality of His Word: "He spake, and it was done" (Psalm 33:9). The winds and the water obey Him (Luke 8:25). And it is by, with, or through the Word that men are born again. It is not a "direct operation" apart from the instrumentality of the Word of God.

As Stephen Charnock says in his great work on this subject --
     That the gospel is the instrument whereby God brings the soul forth in a new birth . . . The gospel is this instrument. . . . It is therefore a necessary instrument. . . . So according to the method God has set of men's actions, it is necessary that this regeneration should be by some word as an instrument, for God has given understanding and will to man. We cannot understand anything, or will anything, but what is proposed to us by some external object; as our eye can see nothing but what is without us, our hand take nothing but what is without us, so it is necessary that God by the word should set before us those things which our understandings may apprehend, and our wills embrace. . . .

     It is necessary the revelation of this gospel we have should be made. There is a necessity of some revelation, for no man can see that which is not visible, or hear that which has no sound, or know that which is not declared. There is also a necessity of the revelation of this gospel, since faith is a great part of this work. How can any man believe that God is good in Christ, without knowing that he has so declared himself? Since the Spirit takes of Christ's, and shows it to us, there must be a revelation of Christ, and the goodness of God in Christ, before we can believe.

     Though the manner of this revelation may be different, and the Spirit may renew in an extraordinary manner, yet this is the instrument whereby all spiritual begettings are wrought; the manner may be by visions, dreams, by reading or hearing, yet still it is the gospel which is revealed; the matter revealed is the same, though the formal revelation or manner may be different.

     Paul's regeneration was by a vision, for at that vision of the light, and that voice of Christ, I suppose him to be renewed, because of that full resignation of his will to Christ, Acts ix. 6, yet the matter of the revelation was the same, that Christ was the Messiah, for so Paul understands it, in giving him the title of Lord. Though God may communicate himself without the written word to some that have it not, yet according to his appointment, not without a revelation of what is in that word.

-- Bob L. Ross

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