Before considering this question, we need to define some words.
Many theological terms would APPEAR to be opportunities to display spiritual pride, however, in reality they present shortcuts when talking about something without having to further explain the intricacies of what that subject entails – details of understanding are added when using theological terms.
It’s like the biblical word, “atonement.”
Many of us were mistakenly told in Sunday school class that this liturgical word meant: “at-one-ment, with…”; which is completely wrong.
The Hebrew words used for “atonement,” kaphar, hata, and racah; meant “to cover,” hence expiate, conceal, or placate; to offer or receive a sin offering; hence make atonement, appiece, propittiate; make reconciliation.
The Greek word, katallage, translated atonement; is actually used in Romans 5:11, but really means “reconciliation;” with the word reconciliation used in Romans 11:15, and 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; yet all 3 passages uses same Greek word katallage as listed above.
It is in defining the words translated to the word atonement, that we come to understand that God did not simply forgive and forget the sin of man; but that there was a covering of man’s sin that was necessary to restore the relationship, that reconciliation was made necessary by the legal act of someone else paying for that sin – the sin is covered in atonement, while Jesus paid the price for sin for the believer.
God is a just and righteous God, and where there is violation,
there must be punishment as recompense.
Where there is sin, there must be punishment;
to do otherwise is unrighteous.
The word atonement, for the Christian cannot be separated from the atoning work of Jesus as our Savior on the cross.
It is BY Jesus that we are reconciled to God by His death on the cross; which Paul further elaborated on in the 5th chapter of Romans.
Salvation is endowed by the simple act of faith in Christ’s atoning death,
wherein Christ took my place – paid for my sins; making me an adopted child of God.
Is a theological term referred to as the act or process which propagates salvation; and salvation is achieved through grace, yet according to the exercise of man’s faith. (#1)
In its most simplistic term, regeneration is used many times to be synonymous with “born again,” as both referred to the act of becoming a Spiritual child of God, to live for eternity with God; as compared to an un-regenerated unbeliever destined for the second death.
Unfortunately, we Americans misuse the word “death” as meaning something that extinguishes life – a halting, or stopping of something.
Yet Biblically speaking, both in the Hebrew and Greek, death always has to do with transition.
And where the Bible refers to the unbeliever as going through the second death, this is a reference NOT to the lack of existence, but of an existence outside of the presence of God; normally understood to be in hell.
Regeneration is understood to be the work of the Holy Spirit within the believer.
Easton’s Bible dictionary, states:
Only found in Matthew 19:28 and Titus 3:5. This word literally means a “new birth.” The Greek word so rendered (palingenesia) is used by classical writers with reference to the changes produced by the return of spring. In Matthew 19:28 the word is equivalent to the “restitution of all things” (Acts 3:21). In Titus 3:5 it denotes that change of heart elsewhere spoken of as a passing from death to life (1 John 3:14); becoming a new creature in Christ Jesus (2 Corth. 5:17); being born again (John 3:5); a renewal of the mind (Romans 12:2); a resurrection from the dead (Eph. 2:6); a being quickened (Eph. 2:1, Eph. 2:5).
This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God (John 1:12, John 1:13; 1 John 2:29; 1 John 5:1, 1 John 5:4). As to the nature of the change, it consists in the implanting of a new principle or disposition in the soul; the impartation of spiritual life to those who are by nature “dead in trespasses and sins.” The necessity of such a change is emphatically affirmed in Scripture (John 3:3; Romans 7:18; Romans 8:7-9; 1 Corth. 2:14; Eph. 2:1; Eph. 4:21-24).
Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, states:
palingenesia (G3824), “new birth” (palin, “again,” genesis, “birth”), is used of “spiritual regeneration,” Tit_3:5, involving the communication of a new life, the two operating powers to produce which are “the word of truth,” Jam_1:18; 1Pe_1:23, and the Holy Spirit, Joh_3:5, Joh_3:6; the loutron, “the laver, the washing,” is explained in Eph_5:26, “having cleansed it by the washing (loutron) of water with the word.”
The new birth and “regeneration” do not represent successive stages in spiritual experience, they refer to the same event but view it in different aspects. The new birth stresses the communication of spiritual life in contrast to antecedent spiritual death; “regeneration” stresses the inception of a new state of things in contrast with the old; hence the connection of the use of the word with its application to Israel, in Mat_19:28. Some regard the kai in Tit_3:5 as epexegetic, “even”; but, as Scripture marks two distinct yet associated operating powers, there is not sufficient ground for this interpretation. See under EVEN.
In Mat_19:28 the word is used, in the Lord’s discourse, in the wider sense, of the “restoration of all things” (Act_3:21, RV), when, as a result of the second advent of Christ, Jehovah “sets His King upon His holy hill of Zion” (Psa_2:6), and Israel, now in apostasy, is restored to its destined status, in the recognition and under the benign sovereignty of its Messiah. Thereby will be accomplished the deliverance of the world from the power and deception of Satan and from the despotic and antichristian rulers of the nations. This restitution will not in the coming millennial age be universally a return to the pristine condition of Edenic innocence previous to the Fall, but it will fulfill the establishment of God’s covenant with Abraham concerning his descendants, a veritable rebirth of the nation, involving the peace and prosperity of the Gentiles. That the worldwide subjection to the authority of Christ will not mean the entire banishment of evil, is clear from Rev_20:7, Rev_20:8. Only in the new heavens and earth, “wherein dwelleth righteousness,” will sin and evil be entirely absent.
The text that I always refer to concerning regeneration is Titus 3:5, which states:
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost“
The Grammar of Titus 3:5
In Greek grammar, whenever you have two nouns separated by the conjunctive “and,” (Greek: kai), and one noun utilizes the definite article “the,” while the other statement does not; this indicates that both nouns are talking about the same thing and are thereby connected (See Endnote #2 – Regarding Ephesians 4:11 below*).
Therefore, this passage when it speaks about the “washing of regeneration,” it is the same thing as “renewing of the Holy Ghost,” the two statements are talking about the same thing, they cannot be separated: the washing of regeneration is done by the renewing of the holy spirit – you cannot separate regeneration from the renewing of the Holy Spirit – it is the Holy Spirit who does the regeneration, not man.
It is the Holy Spirit utilizing the word of God in this process, though it is the Holy Spirit that is the agent of change.
Now to the question at hand
While listening to a radio Bible teaching class, the following question was posted, “which comes first, faith or regeneration.”
Being a good faith zealot that I am, my response would be: “faith of course, which gave opportunity for the Holy Spirit to initiate the regeneration process.”
The reply that I heard, according to R.C. Sproul; is the reason that I am presenting this post.
Before answering this question, Dr. Sproul read John 3:1-19, which states:
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit. Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven,even the Son of man which is in heaven.And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” (John 3:1-21)
Must you be Regenerated in Order to Believe?
Dr. Sproul went on to present the Reform Theology (Which I do not hold to, some things I agree with, not most) position that according to Jesus words, we must first be “born again” or regenerated in order to believe.
In my mind I found myself arguing that verse 3 stated that a man must be born again before he can “see the kingdom of God,” that being born again was in reference to where one would spend eternity as compared to the exact point that they received salvation, where they became a child of God.
I would further go on to state that in verse 14 and 15, Jesus uses the story of Moses lifting up the serpent, which was a typology of Christ being lifted up on the cross – that it was indeed “faith” (or the verb form of faith – “believeth“) used here in the book of John – that “believeth” (Greek: “pisteuo”, believe is the verb form of the root word for faith to, though in our current definition of the word believest it is only cognitive without the action which turns it into faith) came first, before the healing of the snake wounds, the same that as faith occurred before the regeneration, which created the Spirit within the person, who became saved.
The Problem with This Interpretation
Yet, Dr. Sproul went on to state Jesus words as seen in verses 20 and 21, which present a different arrangement in the time sequence. He pointed out that everyone
“that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light.”
Dr. Sproul went on to state that every man born is born in sin, without exception.
And that according to these three verses, man does not come to the light (saving faith), which is also validated in John 6:44, which states:
“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
As well as Romans 3:11, which states:
“There is none that understandeth him, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Which is also seen in Psalms 5:9; 140:3; 10:7; 36:1; Isaiah 59:7-8)
And 1 Corinthians 2:14 states:
“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Dr. Sproul went on to state that faith is not a gift of God, that faith is a spiritual response to the regeneration by the Holy Spirit, as seen in Ephesians 2:8, which states:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God“
Dr. Sproul reiterated that in Ephesians 2:8, that salvation is the only thing being referred to as a “gift” of God, and could not be a reference to “faith” according to the grammar (See Endnote #3), that the above teaches that even this faith that man exercises can only be exercised after regeneration, after having a spiritual discernment in order to choose to do right, to choose to walk into the light.
His point was that regeneration had to occur prior to the choice to exercise faith, that man simply doesn’t decide to follow God and believe, in fact he is incapable as a fallen creature of doing so on his own. Therefore faith could not proceed the regeneration, as the regeneration was necessary to obtain the sight wherein one could exercise faith.
SIDE THOUGHT You Only get a Wrong Conclusion, If you begin with a Wrong Question To me the answer is much simpler than the question which Dr. Sproul presents, which I believe is an incorrect question. The question should not be, which comes first; faith or regeneration, presenting only two possible answers, I believe there is a third. This is an example of what a Logical Fallacy referred to as a False Dichotomy (Reducing the possible conclusions to a question to 2 possibilities, where more possible conclusions are available) where in this case Dr. Sproul presents that there are only two possible answers, and then eliminates one, which leaves only his presupposition as valid - there is another answer in Scripture. A Good Lesson From these Type of Experiences: Question Your Own Beliefs, Then Dig Deep for The Truth Many years ago it was this teaching that Dr. Sproul had presented that made me be willing to question my own beliefs, which in turn drove me deep into God's word (Biblical questions and problems are not meant to drive us away from God, but more deeply into his word) to find the true answer which substantiated the premise that I already held - but the point was I had to be willing to give this up in order to question it correctly and find what the Holy Spirit wanted to teach me - the important lesson here is don't hold on to tight to your own presuppositions, hold tight to what God's word teaches you. Opinions It has been said that everyone has an opinion. Yet, this is vastly different than an educated opinion. I read on the web time after time were individuals, without using scriptural reference present their own interpretation which is miles apart from what the Bible actually presents on the subject, if one would take the time, while making the commitment (Tenacity) to dig deep into God's Word; the word of God will lead us to truth. There are many lazy presenters; they merely use the word of God as a prop to legitimize their own presumptions. I have been guilty of this too many times in my life.
So Where Does this Leave Us
I believe the possible answer is easy, “The Holy Spirit Temporarily Opens the Eyes of Unregenerate Man?”
I believe that the Holy Spirit at some point in each person’s life, open up their eyes so that they can perceive beyond the flesh, and can make a choice if they believe in the gospel to the extent that they can exercise faith.
The Integrity of God
This would address the integrity of God in that each person would have an opportunity concerning their free-will in choosing God, and at the same time God who knows the ending from the beginning could so choose those individuals that would respond in such a way that their free will would not be violated, wherein they would be responsible for their choices because they had an opportunity to see the reality presented to them, and chose not to.
Too many people believe that election, the doctrine that deals with God choosing those that would become his sons and daughters is separate from his foreknowledge concerning who might respond.
And I find myself getting too deep in the weeds to go much further than this could I believe this again is a paradox of God.
However, it would answer the issue where in regeneration, which is part of the born-again experience would not be necessary in order to see the validity of the gospel and choose to have faith, while at the same time fulfilling God’s election.
I know, there are holes in this because again there are certain issues and doctrines which are paradoxical to human nature, and we cannot explain on this side of eternity – and frankly to attempt to do so in order to affirm our own right-thinking, might be to arrogant and preposterous to even attempt.
Maybe we should go as far as a Holy Spirit takes us, and from that point on trusting God that some things are too impossible for the limitations of a human mind to understand.
Such limitations would include the ability to understand the following:
1) Incarnation, where Christ was all of God, and all of man at the same time,
2) Trinity, where God is three, yet One (And no, attempting to say that God is three persons and one in essence; contradicts the fact that God is singular, while at the same time plural).
3) Eternity, where time is not linear; where there is no beginning or ending. Not present, past and future. Not simply time without end, but no time whatsoever.
Is There an Example of Un-Regenerated Man Perceiving that which is Spiritual – Yes
The example is found in Hebrews 6:4-6. Which is one of two Scriptures (The other Hebrews 10:25-27) thought to be examples of how a believer could lose their salvation – yet, this is an incorrect interpretation, grammatically.
The following will display how an individual can be an unbeliever and yet a follower for a while. We need to first examine the biblical context of this book.
The book of Hebrews is written to Jewish Christians concerning those issues which affected them at that day, as opposed to Gentile believer’s issues.
Among the many issues central to the Hebrews was that of converting from Judaism to Christianity, and the fact that to the Jews Christianity was anathema (“Damned of God”), as a heresy.
We 21st-century Gentiles have no capacity to understand what this meant to the Jew in Jesus’ day.
The Temple Life
For the Jew, the Temple in Jerusalem or the synagogue in outlying areas, was the reference point of their daily lives.
The trade guilds that journeymen belong to were run with the control of the synagogues or Temple (the Temple to be included with the term synagogues for the sake of brevity) if it was in Jerusalem.
The markets which provided food were run by the synagogues.
synagogues are the place of meeting, the place of marriage, and the place of family was the synagogues.
Therefore, to become a Christian meant to completely change one’s life, and completely lose one’s identity, ability to make money, provide the necessities of life, and even congregate with one’s family.
So when we see the book of Hebrews, where Jews are addressed concerning becoming Christians, the predominant issue at hand is conversation itself; and the singular sin this passage of the book of Hebrews addresses is that of “drawing back to Judaism.”
In fact the paramount issue this whole book addresses, that of forsaking the truth concerning Christianity, and returning to Judaism, which is to “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh,” (Hebrews 6:6) by returning to the Levitical system (Notice that they don’t actually crucify the son of God afresh, it is to “themselves” alone that they retry Jesus Christ, yet according to the un-regenerated man, they find Christ guilty as a man – because a man is sinful and could not die for the sins of anyone, which is what the Jews taught concerning Jesus of Nazareth).
How unusual, that for centuries, before Christ, the Levitical system was God’s tool, which now became a hindrance to the Jew (actually they were Israelites, Hebrews; “Jew” was a term that they inherited after the Babylonian captivity, taken from the same root word as a tribe of “Judah”).
And for the Hebrew, who is a new convert to Christianity, not established in their faith, at that place of determining their commitment to Christ, how detrimental is this choice.
This is what Hebrews 6:4-6 is dealing with, not the person who has become a true Christian (The term Christian is a cognate of two words: “Christ,” meaning “anointed,” or as from the Greek Septuagint Scripture of the Hebrews, the Christian Old Testament, the term “Messiah“; which when used with the definite article referred to God’s deliver of His people. The suffix “ian”, meant a person that followed whoever placed before it as a word; in this case a Christian is a follower of the Christ. Christ, which is a title for Jesus of Nazareth – The Son of God – His name was not Jesus Christ, it was His title; He should be called: “Jesus The Christ“) – not one that has actually become a Believer, who is not saved, but a temporary follower.
It is the same as in our current vernacular we state that a Christian is one that goes to church, or that they are a Christian because of their politics. We talk about the warring tribes being the Christians and the Islamist in Eastern Europe, this is the sense of the word for Christian, does not mean a true follower of Jesus Christ.
There is a difference between the term Christian as applied to where you come from, who your family’s, or what your culture is, as compared to a legitimate individual that specifically follows Jesus Christ and does what Jesus said to do.
It is the difference between being a hearer and a doer – as between a goat and a sheep – or as between a tare and wheat.
Jesus addressed this many times in the Gospels, such as seen in parable of the seeds, as presented in Matthew 13:20-21, which states:
“But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”
or perhaps as found in verse 22, which states:
“He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.”
Those that Prophesy, Cast Out Devils, or Work Miracles
Or when Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.“
Or lastly as Christ explained in Matthew 13:24-30, which states:
“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Tares and Wheat Better Understood
One aspect of this last parable that is so interesting is the integrity of God’s Word, as seen even in the examples that Jesus utilized (which is true of every parable Jesus presented).
From the outside a tare looks just like wheat, it is the inside that makes all the difference.
The inside of the wheat is filled with fruit that when it falls in the ground produces more fruit.
A tare is empty inside, is void which is the same word that comes from the root of the word pride – which is the basis for our expression when we say someone is full of hot air.
The way that tare and wheat are separated is that close to the top of the hill, at a place that the wind blows, just prior to the crest of the hill, the worker would dig a hole, and then take a rake like device filled with wheat and tares and throw it above the whole.
The wheat, which had substance and therefore weight would fall into the whole to be collected. But the tares, which had no substance and therefore no weight were caught by the wind in blown away.
The difference between a true Christian and a person that looks like a Christian is on the inside, and will not be fully exposed into the rapture where the separation process takes place. Though the one thing to look for is that of producing fruit, which aligns with Jesus teaching in the 15th chapter of John.
But then again busy work is not necessarily spiritual work. There are many religions that they workers appear to work very hard and produce others like themselves. However, this is not bearing spiritual fruit as Jesus spoke about – numbers mean nothing – being doers of jesus’ word is what counts (James 1:22, 23, 25). Now back to the text at hand.
Hebrews 6:4-6, says:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
And though it would appear that the individuals in question are fully Believers, the text says otherwise.
Hebrews 6:4, uses the term “partakers of the Holy Ghost”, with the word “partakers” being the same word translated “partners” in Luke 5:7, with diverse grammar, which states:
“And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink.”
The Greek word “partaker” has usages which include ”limited partnership,” (Greek: metochos, meaning “partner, though limited.” Used only once in the New Testament in this form of the word regarding the grammar – here in the Dative Case [an indirect object, “with“], Plural Number, and Masculine Gender. This grammatical form displays a limited, indirect partnership), such as seen in the above Luke passage wherein there was not a full partnership.
They did not share in the full experience in the same way, in the same ship, receiving the same load of fish. Simon Peter and Andrew went back out alone at the charge of Jesus, their ship started to sink, unlike James’s and John’s ship back at the shore (Simon Peter and Andrew were in their ship which was being over filled, and James and John in the other ship which was not – these were partners in fishing – yet, separate ships, separate owners, separate businesses, separate experiences – unlike the relationship that the Believer has with the Holy Spirit who now lives within the Believer in a non-separate manner. Believers before Pentecost, before the Church dwelt with the Holy Spirit, who was with the Believer, but not in full partnership, dwelling inside the Believers after the creation of the Church at Pentecost – as seen in John 14:17, which states: “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.), came to help them.
These two ships were limited partners, separate – but still two, and there was not equality – there was a limited partnership with another ship.
Another example which is more pertinent can be found in Hebrews 1:9, which speaks about Christ and His relationship to Angels and uses the same Greek word, metochos; but with a different form as the Hebrews 6:4 passage (Where the Case is in the Accusative, Plural Number, and Masculine Gender).
In this passage it is not saying that Christ is a partner with Angels, displaying equality; but that both Christ and Angels are servants, messengers of God. The relationship is not that of intimacy, the same wherein the individuals spoken about in Hebrews 6:4 are not intimate with the Holy Spirit, with the Holy Spirit living within those people as He does with Believers.
When the Holy Spirit brings a person to the place of decision about conversion, there is a process which takes place in completing the terms of their conversion.
The Holy Spirit is with them, but not living in them until the person becomes truly Born-Again, a true Child of God; this is where the relationship becomes intimate; wherein the person becomes a real partaker with the Holy Spirit.
I personally believe that God gives every person a chance to choose, with their eyes wide open, to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ (based upon: 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4), an opportunity to join in relationship with God – to become a full partner with the Holy spirit.
The Holy Spirit is called the “comforter” (Greek) paraklētos, also means an “intercessor,” an “consoler,” an “advocate,” who comes alongside the Believer and helps them walk (as in when someone has a hard time walking, and another comes along side them, and has the person put their arm around the neck of the helper, who helps them walk – this is one of the functions of the Holy Spirit as their partner with the Believer), the Holy Spirit is the Helper who partners with the Believer.
And though we can refer to the date and time that most of us accepted Jesus Christ, we must realize that the Holy Spirit had been moving us to that point for quite some time (In fact, we are really “chosen” since the “foundation of the world” ~ Ephesians 1:3-5).
Once Enlightened & Tasted the Good Word of God…
This is a reference to that point in time where God in his fairness and justice gives every individual an opportunity to respond to him in faith, the Holy Spirit enlightens them.
The word “Enlightened” (Greek) phōtizo, means to “exposed to light,” “to shine light on,” “to illuminate.”
Yet, what is not conveyed is a permanence.
The word “tasted“ (Greek) geuomai, means to “eat,” “taste,” “experience.”
Again, what is not conveyed is a permanence.
The grammar for both words is that they both are in the aorist tense, meaning that the Action Occurred in the Past (“Once & for all”), it is used to connote certainty – not the actual time of occurrence.
If the person was truly saved, their illumination and tasting would not have been in the past, which is meant to display that it occurred once, the verb that is used for salvation is always an ongoing process that never ends, it is not a once only process in less it is dealing with the permanence issue which is not view here.
If this was a reference to a born-again Believer, wherein the illumination and experience of the Holy Spirit would be a permanent aspect of their life, the Greek grammar would’ve used the perfect tense, which would mean the action occurred in the past with results that are never-ending (as seen in Christ purchasing our salvation at the cross and it never been lost or stop), or in the present tense, which would refer to the action taking place currently and never-ending, never stopping.
The use of the aorist tense is meant to display the permanence of their spiritual state, which in this case would indicate that they were unsaved, dead in spirit, never destined to be otherwise.
this goes back to the idea that sheep never become goats, goats don’t become sheep; tares never become wheat, we never turns into tares; believers never become unbelievers, and unbelievers never become believers, at least when we deal with the perfect tense of salvation wherein there is no time but simply the eternity that God lives within.
It is only man that experiences time, linearly speaking, which again explains the use of perfect tense concerning when Christ died for our sins.
It is in understanding that the Holy Spirit enlightens every individual that the justice of God is fulfilled. God commands condemnation to no one unjustly. Each man and woman are enlightened by the Holy Spirit at some point concerning their choices, and their rejection to receive that light; their refusal to accept the free gift of salvation.
This is why I say that regeneration follows faith.
That once an individual exercises faith, and the Holy Spirit indwells them, it is the Holy Spirit that engages in the regeneration process once the person has become a true believer of Jesus Christ. The spirit does not indwell the unbeliever, and therefore would never engage in regeneration in a person’s life wherein they could then choose if they wish to exercise faith.
Therefore, faith must come first, with regeneration being the process the Holy Spirit brings afterwards. This also explains why many times it takes a while for a Christian to start to produce fruit in their lives, moving from being a carnal Christian as Paul speaks about, to maturing to the point of producing fruit as Jesus commands.
1. The following verses may be helpful for any ongoing study on the subject of regeneration.
“Regeneration” – General references
Deu_30:6; Deu_29:4; 1Ki_8:58; Psa_36:9; Psa_51:2; Psa_51:7; Psa_51:10; Psa_65:3; Psa_68:18; Psa_87:4; Psa_87:6; Psa_110:3; Pro_4:23; Pro_12:28; Pro_14:27; Pro_16:1; Isa_1:16-17; Isa_1:25; Isa_4:4; Isa_12:3; Isa_26:12; Isa_29:23; Isa_32:3-4; Isa_32:15; Isa_32:17; Isa_35:5-6; Isa_42:16; Isa_43:7; Isa_44:3-5; Isa_49:9; Isa_55:1-3; Jer_13:23; Jer_17:13-14; Jer_24:7; Jer_31:3; Jer_31:33-34; Heb_8:10-11; Jer_32:38-40; Jer_33:6; Eze_11:19-20; Eze_16:9; Eze_18:31; Eze_36:26-27; Eze_36:29; Eze_37:1-14; Eze_44:7; Eze_44:9; Zec_12:10; Mat_12:33-35; Mat_12:43-44; Mat_13:23; Mat_13:33; Mar_4:20; Luk_13:21; Mat_18:3; Mar_10:15; Luk_18:17; Mar_4:26-29; Luk_1:16-17; Luk_8:35; Luk_8:38-39; Mar_5:19-20; Joh_1:4; Joh_1:13; Joh_1:16; Joh_3:3-8; Joh_4:10; Joh_4:14; Joh_5:24; Joh_6:44-45; Joh_6:47; Joh_6:50-51; Joh_6:57; Joh_8:12; Joh_8:32; Joh_8:36; Joh_10:9-10; Joh_13:8; Joh_15:1; Joh_15:3; Joh_17:2; Act_2:38; Act_2:47; Act_3:26; Act_11:17; Act_11:21; Act_15:9; Act_16:14; Act_21:19; Act_26:18; Rom_2:28-29; Rom 6:3-23; Rom_7:6; Rom_7:24-25; Rom_8:2-6; Rom_8:9; Rom_8:13-16; Rom_12:2; Rom_15:16; 1Co_1:9; 1Co_1:24; 1Co_1:30; 1Co_2:12; 1Co_2:14-16; 1Co_3:6-7; 1Co_3:9; 1Co_6:11; 1Co_12:6; 1Co_12:13; 1Co_15:10; 2Co_1:21-22; 2Co_3:3; 2Co_3:18; 2Co_4:6; 2Co_5:5; 2Co_5:17; Gal_2:20; Gal_4:29; Gal_6:15; Eph_2:1; Eph_2:5-6; Eph_2:8; Eph_2:10; Eph_4:7-8; Eph_4:16; Eph_4:21-24; Eph_5:14; Phi_1:6; Col_2:11-13; Col_3:9-10; 2Th_2:13; Tit_3:5-6; Heb_4:1-12; Heb_10:16-17; Heb_10:22-23; Jam_1:18; Jam_5:19-20; 1Pe_1:2-3; 1Pe_1:22-23; 1Pe_2:3; 1Pe_2:9; 2Pe_1:3-4; 1Jo_2:27; 1Jo_2:29; 1Jo_3:9; 1Jo_3:14; 1Jo_4:7; 1Jo_5:1; 1Jo_5:4-5; 1Jo_5:11-12; 1Jo_5:18. See Atonement; Reconciliation; Redemption; Sanctification; Sin, Forgiveness of Instances of: Jacob – Gen_32:29; Saul – 1Sa_10:9; and Saul of Tarsus – Acts 9:3-18. (Naves Topical Bible)
2. The Value of Digging Deep – Why Pastors Must be Teachers – According to God’s Word*
There are many pastors that unfortunately fit this bill as well, and don’t send the time to be better teachers (Justifying their laziness concerning handling God’s Word because they say that they are pastors, not teachers), and don’t even understand the admonition they are given in Ephesians 4:11, which states:
“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some (Greek: ho [G3588]), pastors and (Greek: kia [G2532]) teachers.”
“Some pastors and teachers” referred to here is speaking about the same person who is responsible for both functions, not two separate individuals – these two nouns, pastors and teachers are not two people, but one person who holds two functions.
As referred to above, in Koiné Greek, when two nouns are connected with the conjunctive, “and“ (Greek: kia [G2532]), and ONLY one of the nouns has the definite article, (Greek: ho [G3588]), while the other noun does not have the definite article; the two nouns are speaking about the same thing in essence, they are referring to the same person or thing; not separate entities.
The definite article can normally be found in one of three different spellings in the Greek; ho, hay, to (Greek: G3588), though there are other definite articles which apply as well.
In most cases the definite article is translated into the English: “the,” “this,” “these,” “that,” “his,” “he,” “her,” “she,” “some,” “it;” as well as other pronouns.
And IF these conditions are NOT met exactly, then the two nouns are NOT the same in essence, and are NOT synonymous, but separate (example of where the nouns are separate can be found in: Rom. 8:17, Acts 6:8).
Another very notable example of this grammatical principle (called the “Granville Sharpe Rule of Greek Grammar”), is found in Luke 9:23, which states: “… let him deny himself, and (Greek: kia) take up his [Greek: ho] cross daily...”
Therefore, what this verse is saying is that denying yourself is the same as picking up your cross, the two are the same in essence. Very simply, Christ is defining how we pick up our cross, how we crucify the flesh, how we die to self; which is to done by denying ourselves.
3. The Following is a Grammatical Exegesis regarding Ephesians 2:8, which states:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God“
One of the most trusted scholars, Warren Wiersbe states concerning Ephesians 2:8:
Our salvation is the gift of God. (The word “that” in Eph. 2:8, in the Greek, is neuter; while [the word] “faith” is feminine.
Therefore “that” cannot refer to “faith“.
It refers to the whole experience of salvation, [which] including faith.) Salvation is a gift, not a reward. [formatting added]
Ephesians 2:8, states:
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God“
Vincent’s Word Study also states concerning this:
“For by grace,”
This may truly be called exceeding riches of grace, for ye are saved by grace. Grace has the article, the grace of God, [also as] in Eph. 2:5, Eph. 2:7.
Not faith, but the salvation.
Emphatic. Of God is it the gift. [formatting added]
Therefore, what Ephesians 2:8 specifically states is that all that makes up salvation is a gift of God (Wherein even according to English grammar, the lack of the definite article, in this case; “the” indicates that the gift refers to salvation).
Yet, with the abundance of Scriptures which declares that God calls us, as seen in the God the Father draws us (John 6:44), as Jesus choosing us (John 15:16 ~ “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” The pronoun is emphatic, indicating that Jesus does the choosing, and the Greek grammar word for chosen is in the aorist tense, meaning that it was completed in the past, which again takes man out of the equation as this was done before his own existence [See Eph. 1:4 & Rev. 13:8]. The voice is middle, meaning that God Himself does the choosing for his own benefit, and the mood is indicative, which means that it is a complete fact that is unchangeable. And for those that would say that the choosing has to do with bearing fruit, or that the choosing is to choose a group that would be saved as compared to an individual, again the grammar is completely against these two false conclusions. The only grammatically correct way to read this and all other Scriptures concerning predestination, calling, and election; is that God does the choosing and we are the recipients. While we are free-will being, this does not change the fact that is God that calls us and not we ourselves. The contrast between free-will and election is a paradox on this side of eternity, but scripturally is a fact that God does the choosing, our responding is another issue in itself.). For more on these subjects, please see the following five articles which primarily address “Eternal Security” – LINK – LINK – LINK – LINK – LINK.
“To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license.
Nobody actually reads it.
They just scroll to the bottom and click ‘I agree.’