From: Pilgrimpub@AOL.COM
Sent: Saturday, April 10, 2004 11:01 AM
To: Mentonebay@AOL.COM

In a message dated 4/9/2004 5:35:47 PM Central Daylight Time, a reader writes:


I have held that regeneration [the power of God as dispensed on the
Damascus Road] will soon and surely produce saving faith.  Wasn't the
jailer regenerate already when he cried, "WHAT must I do to be saved?" 


Dear BJ:

Until the Holy Spirit has effected faith in Christ, Who is the true Life, it does not constitute the New Birth, as I understand it. He that has the Son has life.

To think that one could have the new birth, or life, and yet still be in unbelief, just doesn't make sense to me. If the jailer was already born again when he asked the question, then he was already saved apart from believing on Christ, wasn't he? And when Paul and Silas replied to him, wouldn't they have said something like, "Oh, but you are already born again and are saved"? -- Bob Ross


In a message dated 4/10/2004 9:55:24 AM Central Daylight Time, BJ writes:

Then would you say that it was only an external work of the Holy Spirit
that brought the jailer to desperately ask that question?


Of course not. The Spirit works internally as well as in conjunction with the external means of revelation which are necessary to the New Birth. Jesus parallels believing to "looking" (John 3:14-6), the only example He ever gave of the New Birth.

In the creation of faith, it cannot exist apart from some object in which to believe. If one is to have faith, he must believe in something. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. As the Puritan Stephen Charnock insists:

God does not ordinarily work but BY MEANS, and does not produce anything without them which may be done with them.

God does not maintain the creatures by a daily creation, but by generation; he maintains that faculty of generation in them by the means of health and nourishment, and that by the means of the fruits of the earth, and does all this according to the ordinance he fixed at the creation, when he appointed every kind of creatures their proper food, and bestowed his blessing upon them, 'Increase and multiply.'

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. . . .

[2.] 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.

Do you know anyone in who was ever saved who was not exposed to external revelation, the "matter" of which was that of the Gospel of Christ? I know of no one mentioned in Scripture who was born again by the Holy Spirit apart from a revelation which in essence was the same "matter" as in the Gospel of Christ.

For further study, may I suggest Charnock to you?
A Discourse of the Word, the Instrument of Regeneration

-- Bob

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