Having covered effectual calling in the previous article, we now turn to Regeneration and Conversion. Remember, this is the order of salvation we are considering:
1. Effectual calling
4. Union with Christ
6. Positional Sanctification
8. Progressive Sanctification
Following instantaneously after effectual calling, we could say simultaneously with that call to come (which is not an audible voice, but the summons of the spirit of God into the heart), there was a work of God in parting spiritual life to the dead soul and of course, that’s what we call regeneration. That is pictured again in John 11, when Jesus says, “Lazarus, come forth!” that is the call, but Lazarus has no ability to come forth. Jesus said, “The hour is coming and now is when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God and they shall live.” Regeneration is the impartation of spiritual life to a dead sinner’s heart, and when Jesus commanded Lazarus to come forth with the command silently, sovereignly, powerfully, secretly God sent forth the power and spiritual life into the dead body of Lazarus and he was awakened. That is a picture of the relationship between effectual calling and regeneration. “Come!” he said, and he was awakened in order to come. Now Paul said this in Ephesians 2, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, but you were made alive in Jesus Christ.” And in Colossians, “you were dead in your trespasses and sins, but you were made alive in Jesus Christ.” Jesus said, “unless the man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Did you catch that word? “Cannot see the kingdom of God.” Before a man can see the kingdom of God, he has to be awakened and raised from the dead, by the Spirit of God. So, he can respond to the call. That is what the Bible calls regeneration.
In regeneration, man is entirely passive. It is holy, and an act of God. He is acted upon by God, he contributes nothing to the new birth. In John 3, Jesus said, “you must be born again to enter the kingdom of God.” He’s not giving a command, he is just making a statement. Before you can enter the kingdom of God by faith, you must be born again. And here is where our Armenian friends and our Pelagian friends have it completely backwards. They say, firstly because man is not totally depraved, he is sick and partially dead, but he has the ability to believe because God commands him to do so. And once he repents and believes, then he is born again. So the Bible more clearly teaches that man is dead in sin, unable and unwilling to repent and believe. God must first do something to him, he must give him spiritual life. James 1:18 said “You’re born again by the will of God.” Paul put it this way in Titus 3, “It’s by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.” Peter put it this way: “We are born again to a living hope” and, “We are born again, not of seed that is perishable, but imperishable by the living and abiding word of God.”
So what is regeneration? It is the impartation of spiritual life to a dead soul. Who is the one that does it?. God the Holy Ghost does it. We are born again by the spirit. The wind blows, you hear the sound and see the trees but you do not know from whence it came and where it goes. Such is everyone born of the Holy Spirit. The instrument he uses is the Word of God. We’re born not of perishable seed, but imperishable, the living and abiding word of God. As I’ve often said, just like a farmer plants a seed in the soil and then the rain falls and the rays of the sun heat the ground. What happens to that seed? It germinates, it pops open, it brings forth life. In the same way, the word of God is scattered abroad. Some on rocky ground, some on hard ground, some among the thorns and the thistles that they do not believe, but some on good ground and it falls in a man’s heart. He hears the word of God and the Spirit of God comes and brings it to life and he is born again.
The application of salvation begins with effectual calling and regeneration. Simultaneous, instantaneous works of God calling, commanding, summoning men to come and instantaneously imparting to them spiritual life so that they can respond to the call. God did not call a man five years ago and then ten years from now, he’s born again. It is instantaneous. This teaches us that you don’t have the power to raise the dead. As God told Ezekiel to speak to the bones, they cannot live in their own power. The preacher’s responsibility is to speak to the bones the power of God unto salvation, so that God may be pleased to give life and to summon men to live.
Hear me brethren, the order of salvation goes like this, God calls and instantaneously with the call, God imparts spiritual life. That’s called the new birth. And then obviously, instantaneously upon the reception of new life and being raised from the dead, it illuminates the mind, it opens the heart, it frees and cleanses the conscience. And the first conscious act of a regenerated soul instantaneously is to repent and to believe. That is conversion.
So here is our order of effectual calling, regeneration, and conversion. And they all happen in an instant. You’re not born again now and then are converted five years later. 51 years ago, I was sitting at a desk in a dormitory, as I’ve often told you, in my university, reading the gospel tract and unknown to me, God had summoned me to life and he imparted life to my soul. And the first conscious act I did was to call on the name of the Lord. I thought I did it all myself. What I didn’t know was that God was previous, because I had no ability in and of myself to come to Christ. You could sooner preach to a dead man and tell him to rise as you could to preach to a sinner and tell him to repent and believe. Why? Because repentance and faith are his responsibility, but they are beyond his ability. I’ve often said to some of you, that absolute freedom of will was possessed only by two people in humanity: Adam and Eve in the garden. And of their own free will, under the tempting promptings of the devil, they chose to turn from God and their eyes were open, but their heart was darkened, and their will was bound, and their conscience was defiled, and they were ashamed of themselves and everyone born of Adam, is born in a state of spiritual deadness, separated from God. And so he does not have the ability to repent and believe, but he still has the responsibility to repent and believe.
So, when you preach the gospel to men, you don’t tell them what they cannot do, tell them what they must do. Like Peter, on the day of Pentecost. When they cried out, “Men and brethren, What must we do?” What did Peter say well? “There’s nothing you can do. You are dead in sin. You’re totally depraved, you’re morally unable, you cannot repent, you cannot believe. Just sit there and do nothing.” That’s not what he did. He preached not to their inability. But he preached to their responsibility. He said, “Repent and be baptized and you will receive the forgiveness of sins.” When we preach to men, we tell them what they must do, not what they cannot do.
God calls with that call. He gives life. The instantaneous response of a waking sinner through the new birth is to come to Christ. The first response of Lazarus, when he was awakened from the dead, was that he came out of the tomb. That is a picture of the relationship of an effectual calling, regeneration, and conversion. Lazarus came forth and with the command, came regenerating life to a dead body. The first thing Lazarus did was he got up and came to Christ. That is a picture of conversion. Everyone standing around did not hear the call or see the life imparted. It is secret, sovereign. and inward. All they saw was Lazarus coming to Christ.
The conversion has two parts: repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. And hear me, they are gifts of God. In Acts 5, “God has exalted him to be a prince and saviour,” Peter said, “to grant repentance to Israel and the forgiveness of sins.” In Acts 11, after Peter preached at the home of Cornelius and came home to report it to the Jews. They raised their voices with thanksgiving and said well now God has granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads unto life. According to Peter, repentance is a gift of the sovereign Christ, who had been raised from the dead.
Paul put it this way 2 Timothy 2:24, “The Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome and not be angry, but be gentle, be kind to all. If perchance God may grant them repentance, leading to the knowledge of the truth and they come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil and no longer do as well.” Did you catch the sequence? God grants repentance as a gift by regenerating grace. Repentance and faith are twin gifts of regeneration. God grants repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth and they come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil. Your responsibility is to preach to men, the gospel of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ that is the power of God. Then tell them they must repent, they must turn from their idols, they must turn from their dead works, they must turn from their false religion, they must turn from their lust, they must turn from their vanity, they must turn from their own self-righteousness. And they must turn to God and they must believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Faith is a gift of God, Paul said in Ephesians 2, “it’s not of yourself, it is a gift of God lest any man should boast.” Paul put it this way in Philippians 1, “To you it had been granted as a gift, not only to believe but also to suffer for his name.” Now, no man can repent and believe dead in trespasses and sins. Yet all men must repent and believe if they’re going to be converted. God commands men to do something they cannot do. Christ told Lazarus to come forth. He told a dead man to do something he could not do.
There was a man with a crippled hand and Jesus told him to stretch forth his hand. He told him to do something he was powerless to do, but with the command, life was given to heal his arm and he stretched forth his hand. Not of his own power, but through the healing power of God. Lazarus came forth, not awakening himself from the dead, but he had been raised from the dead. And the first immediate act of a conscious soul raised from the dead, by regenerating life is to come to Christ.
Hear me carefully. Effectual calling, regeneration and conversion, all instantaneous. One is the cause, the other is the effect. Regeneration is holy and the act of God, conversion is holy, and the response of man. In regeneration, God is active, man is passive. In conversion, man is active. One is the source, the other is the result. They’re not separated by minutes, hours by days or years. They are instantaneous, immediately upon the impartation of life. There is the gift of repentance and faith when a man comes to Christ.
Having spent time on the second and third points in the order and application of salvation in this article, we will turn our attention to further points in the next article in this series.
This article is the transcript of the talk by Brother Andy H in the meeting held in August 2021 entitled ‘The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption.’
Please click here to read Part 1 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 2 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H.
Please click here to read Part 3 of the article on “The Order of Salvation – The Application of Redemption” by Bro. Andy H.