Archive for the ‘New Birth’ Category

Regeneration precedes faith – causal not temporal order

August 6, 2010

The following example may help grasp why (the idea that regeneration preceeding faith and justification does) not occur in some temporal order. In the physical world, consider a pool ball that hits another – ask yourself, does one hit first and then the other? No, both pool balls hit each other at the same time, but it was only the ball rolling with the momentum that actually caused the other to move. In this way, two events can happen at the same time as another even if one event caused the other. This is a causal order, not a logical or temporal order and this expresses a little about how God acts on us. His work comes in from the outside, apart from which we can do nothing. That initial move of regeneration we are passive (sic), but from this regeneration concurrently springs faith, justification and the beginnings of sanctification. How can this be? Because God is not a creature and is not locked into a temporal history as we are. His acts from the outside are what change our heart instantly from a poisoned spring to a fresh spring.. Apart from the Spirit’s work our heart remains dormant or hostile to Christ. Our regenerative grace in Jesus Christ is what makes all the the other benefits spring forth at once.

John Samson

the Joy of New Life

January 21, 2010

Haiti earthquake 2010

They called her Natalie, because that is what she seemed to say when they made contact. Her real name was Hoteline Losana but as she talked to her rescuers from deep under the rubble, then sang quietly when at last they lifted her to safety, then sang again with extraordinary force as they lowered her towards the cheering crowd, it was Natalie that stuck. By then it was close to midnight, 14 hours after passers-by had heard her on the Rue Lalue, 12 hours after the French had arrived and more than a week after the earthquake had trapped her in a space slightly larger than a coffin. It was not the end for Ms Losana, 25, because of a stroke of luck that trapped her without crushing her in the remains of a three-storey furniture shop near the cathedral — and because of an indomitable will to live. She was shopping when the quake hit. As the building collapsed she was thrown on to her back on the first floor, next to a display of wooden furniture that crumpled under a 3ft by 8ft concrete slab. Related Links Keeping the Faith Fresh quake hits Haiti after ‘triple miracle’ Second tremor rumbles across the ruins in Haiti Jean-Philippe Oustallet, from Biarritz, one of the first to reach her, said that the slab came to rest 2cm above her head and 10cm above her chest. She must have cried out every day but no one heard her until late on Tuesday morning. A Haitian team was first on the scene and started hacking at the huge mass of debris with basic hand tools. At noon Mr Oustallet’s 20-strong team from Secouristes Sans Frontières joined the search with dogs, power tools, generators, lights, two doctors and a camera on a probe. For three hours, in sweltering heat, the French team dug down from the collapsed roof using circular saws to cut away concrete and drills to find access for the camera. As they got close they were able to ask Ms Losana her name and whether she was injured. She answered calmly that she was not in pain. When the camera penetrated the near-total darkness that had enveloped “Natalie” for a week the French asked if she could see the light. “Yes,” she said, “I see the light.” Then darkness began to fall for the eighth time since the quake. By dusk the French and Haitians had been joined by a third team from the US and fourth from Turkey. Erding Sarimusaoglu, leading the Turkish team, took over at the bottom of the access pit and found a crushed bed and a decomposing body blocking the way to the slab above Ms Losana’s head. For another hour the Turks cut through the bedsprings. “They’re tougher than concrete because they’re so compressed,” said Memo Tanrisever from Istanbul. By 7.55pm the French were back in charge and starting to worry about crush syndrome, which can kill an otherwise healthy survivor at the moment of rescue as compressed muscle tissue expands, releasing toxins into the bloodstream. After a conference between the French doctors and their American counterparts, Jeff Lewis, a paramedic from northern Virginia, began preparing doses of life-saving drugs and fluids for injection straight into the bone. “After this long it’s usually impossible to find a vein for a normal IV,” he said. Ms Losana had told the rescuers closest to her that she had been talking to another survivor until Monday. That survivor appears to have died on the bed above her after six days in an even tighter space. At 9.15pm the nauseating smell of death suddenly intensified on the roof and the body was brought out in pieces in a white bag. The man assigned to cut it up ran out, coughing, then wiped his face with a sleeve and went back to the hole. For two more hours the French expanded a pit next to Ms Losana’s head so that she could be pulled into it before being raised. The French doctors gave her fluids, checked her vital signs and talked quietly with her for what seemed like an age. At last one of them climbed out and gave a quick thumbs-up to the exhausted workers waiting in a small amphitheatre of rubble. We saw “Natalie’s” head first. Even from 30ft away, we could see that she was smiling. She was talking to her brother on her mobile phone. The Haitian team grasped the handles of her stretcher. The French formed two lines up a sloping slab to the flat section of roof from which her rescue had been organised. As they applauded, dust rose from their gloves. As she drew near, we heard her singing. At first it was hard to believe. Her lips were scarcely moving, but the sound was unmistakably hers. The French followed her out, their faces caked in dirt, tears welling up for some, flowing uncontrollably for others. As they hugged each other and the Haitians, four US airmen gently transferred her to a makeshift hoist and began to lower her horizontally down the 20ft wall to solid ground. As she went over the edge, Ms Losana filled her lungs and sang loudly enough for those below to hear over the generators. She was still singing at the bottom. I asked no one in particular what it was. “I don’t know,” said one of the exultant crowd of Haitians who helped her into the waiting ambulance. “It is a song of God.” Mr Oustallet climbed down and stood quietly with his team. “I won’t sleep tonight,” he said. “Too much emotion. I’ll sleep when the mission is finished on the plane back to Biarritz. In 20 years as a rescuer, this has been my most beautiful day.”

The Times

This is the joy of the Christian who is raised from spirtual death to life. We rejoice and we sing.

We have outgrown that sort of thing in America

January 12, 2010

A South Sea Islander, who was a reformed cannibal and a convert to Christ, proudly displayed his Bible to a G.I. during WW”. The soldier mockingly said, “We have outgrown that sort of thing in America.” The native smiled back and said, “It’s a good thing we haven’t. If it weren’t for this book, you would have been a meal by now.”

Michael A. Robinson, God Does Exist!, Author House 2006, p.163

Papillon’s New Birth

November 11, 2009

(When escaped convict Henri Charrière arrived on Trinidad an English lawyer opened his house to him. Indeed, the next day Mr Bowen left them alone in his house with his wife and daughter.)

“By leaving his house to three escaped convicts like this he gave us a lesson that couldn’t have been bettered: it was as though he were saying: ‘You are normal decent human beings…now that I have talked to you, I see that you are perfectly trustworthy-so much so that I leave you here in my home like old friends, not supposing for a moment that you could possibly do or say anything wrong.'”

Reader-supposing this book has readers some day-I am not clever and I don’t possess the vivid style, the living power, that is needed to describe this immense feeling of self-respect- no, of rehabilitation, or even of a new life. This figurative baptism, this bath of cleanliness, this raising of me above the filth I had sunk in…quite simply changed my whole being. I had been a convict, a man who could hear his chains even when he was free and who always felt that someone was watching over him…but all that vanished.

Henri Charrière, Papillon (Butterfly), p.116

Philosophers must become kings

September 16, 2009

The society we have described can never grow into a reality or see the light of day, and there will be no end to the troubles of states, or indeed, my dear Glaucon, of humanity itself, till philosophers are kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.

Plato, Republic, 473 d,e, (380BC)

And these philosopher-rulers (presumably men like Plato himself), says Plato, will be ‘saviours of our society’ (Republic, 502, d)

in The Republic, Plato’s hope for change for the better in man’s lot is the application of external factors, i.e. educational, environmental and of course through eugenics (good breeding). Bad nurture causes ills he avers.

Plato, like Marx and Rousseau failed to appreciate the need to transform man by the new birth. They believed in changing society to change man instead of changing man that society would be transformed.

The consequence of this thinking is the totalitarianism that flowed through their political children: From Marx the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union etc., and from Rousseau the Terror of the French Revolution.

There is a kind of seeing that does not see

September 6, 2009

There is a kind of seeing that does not see. We can gaze vacantly in the direction of an object but we do not really see it since our minds are otherwise occupied. Or consider how one person may walk through a wood and see nothing but trees, but the trained botanist sees here an alder, there an ash. So to in the spiritual realm. One person hears the gospel but his mind is not on it – he is preoccupied and it makes no impression. He is like a man who looks but only vacantly. To really see his mind must be made to focus on the Word of God. This is the work of the Spirit.

Man – powerless to save himself

August 23, 2009

Freud has unfortunately overlooked the fact that man has never
yet been able single‑handed to hold his own against the powers of
darkness — that is, of the unconscious. Man has always stood in need
of the spiritual help which each individual’s own religion held out to

Carl Jung, quoted by Hans Küng

It’s one thing to diagnose the illness – prescribing an effective treatment is another.

Not able not to sin

August 19, 2009

Augustine states that in his current state man is non posse non peccare (i.e. not able not to sin) The four stages of man were, are and will be

  1. able to sin, able not to sin (posse peccare, posse non peccare) the state of man in innocence, before the Fall

  2. not able not to sin (non posse non peccare); the second the state of the natural man after the Fall

  3. able not to sin (posse non peccare) the third the state of the regenerate man

  4. unable to sin (non posse peccare) the fourth the glorified man.

From Albatrus

NB The new birth is essential to ever move from stage 2 to 3 and 4.

Salvation through faith

August 17, 2009

As George Whitefield preached from John 3 – ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent…’ the wife of a jailed convict cried, ‘I believe! I believe! I shall not perish because I believe in him now! I’m born again, I’m saved!

Her husband gripped George’s hand as in pain, and cried, I’m on the brink of hell! But the next moment his face changed, I see it too! I’m saved! Oh joy! joy! joy! George was astonished. He’d tried so hard for a year, but these two sinners seemed to have been forgiven in a second.

George Whitefield, John Pollock, 1972, p.14

Charles Finney’s Defective Theology

October 25, 2008

Denying original sin, Finney asserted that we are only guilty and corrupt when we choose to sin, Christ’s work on the cross couldn’t have paid our debt but could only serve as a moral example and influence to persuade us to repent and be obedient. “If he had obeyed the Law as our substitute then why should our own return to personal obedience be insisted upon as a sine qua non of our salvation?” So Finney goes on to write, “the atonement is simply an incentive to virtue,” rejecting the view that “the atonement is a literal payment of a debt” Finney can only concede it is “true that the atonement of itself does not secure the salvation of anyone.” Justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness Finney says, “is not only absurd, but undermines all motivation for personal holiness. The new birth is not a divine gift, but the result of a rational choice to turn from sin to obedience.” In fact, his most famous sermon was “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.” Christians can perfectly obey God in this life if they choose and only in this way are they justified. In fact, he adds, “Full present obedience is a condition of justification. No one can be justified while sin, any degree of sin, remains in him.”
Finney declared concerning the Reformation formula “simultaneously justified and sinful,” “this error has slain more souls I fear than all the Universalism that ever cursed the world. For whenever a Christian sins he comes under condemnation and must repent and do his first works or be lost. As I have already said,” he writes “there can be no justification in a legal or forensic sense but upon the ground of universal, perfect, and uninterrupted obedience to Law. The doctrine of an imputed righteousness or that Christ’s obedience to the Law was credited as our obedience is founded on a most false and nonsensical assumption. For Christ’s righteousness could do more than justify himself, it could never be imputed to us. It was naturally impossible, then, for him then to obey in our behalf. Representing the atonement as the ground of the sinner’s justification has been a sad occasion of stumbling for many.” Referring to the framers of the Westminster Confession of Faith and their view of an imputed righteousness Finney writes, “If this is not antinomianism then I don’t know what is.”
Folks, this is exactly the heresy that we have identified from the church councils of the fifth and sixth centuries. It is remarkable that the catholic church in fifth and sixth centuries recognized these very positions as outside the bounds of the Christian faith, while Billy Graham can say of Charles Finney that he was the greatest evangelist since the Apostle Paul. And this is a concern that is hardly limited to a few grumpy Calvinists and Lutherans. “Self salvation is the goal of much of our preaching,” complains United Methodist Bishop William Willimon and he says in this respect, “we are heirs of Charles G. Finney who thought that conversion was not a miracle, but a purely philosophical result of the right use of constituted means.

Michael Horton, White Horse Inn