Calvinism, Controversial Issues

Examining Calvinism – Reformed Theology on Regeneration: True or False Does Regeneration Precede Faith? Who was regenerated in the Old Testament?

Examining Calvinism-Reformed Theology on Regeneration

True or False:  Does Regeneration Precede Faith?

There are many websites, blogs, articles, audios, etc. out there concerning Calvinism and the doctrine of Regeneration stating, “regeneration precedes faith”.  Calvinism teaches that a person must first be regenerated in order to put faith in Jesus Christ.   Calvinism teaches that after a person has been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, they they become spiritually alive, given a new birth, have become born again, and now they are able to freely choose to believe in Jesus Christ by faith.  Does regeneration precede faith in Jesus?  Does the Bible teach that regeneration must precede faith in order for a person to be able to receive and believe in Jesus Christ?

Here is just a few Reformed Resources on this

Dr. R. C. Sproul:  “The term regeneration comes from two Greek words that can be literally translated as “born again,” but most people probably do not think of regeneration immediately when they hear this phrase.” link

Dr. R. C. Sproul:  “In the Augustinian and Reformation view, regeneration is seen first of all as a supernatural work of God. Regeneration is the divine work of God the Holy Spirit upon the minds and souls of fallen people, by which the Spirit quickens those who are spiritually dead and makes them spiritually alive. This supernatural work rescues that person from his bondage to sin and his moral inability to incline himself towards the things of God. Regeneration, by being a supernatural work, is obviously a work that cannot be accomplished by natural man on his own. If it were a natural work, it would not require the intervention of God the Holy Spirit..when the Holy Spirit regenerates a human soul, the purpose of that regeneration is to bring that person to saving faith in Jesus Christ. That purpose is effected and accomplished as God purposes in the intervention. Regeneration is more than giving a person the possibility of having faith, it gives him the certainty of possessing that saving faith.” link

Canons of Dordt Third and Fourth Main Points of Doctrine:  “And this is the regeneration, the new creation, the raising from the dead, and the making alive so clearly proclaimed in the Scriptures, which God works in us without our help. But this certainly does not happen only by outward teaching, by moral persuasion, or by such a way of working that, after God has done his work, it remains in man’s power whether or not to be reborn or converted. Rather, it is an entirely supernatural work, one that is at the same time most powerful and most pleasing, a marvelous, hidden, and inexpressible work, which is not lesser than or inferior in power to that of creation or of raising the dead, as Scripture (inspired by the author of this work) teaches. As a result, all those in whose hearts God works in this marvelous way are certainly, unfailingly, and effectively reborn and do actually believe. And then the will, now renewed, is not only activated and motivated by God but in being activated by God is also itself active. For this reason, man himself, by that grace which he has received, is also rightly said to believe and to repent.” (Canons of Dordt, Article 12: Regeneration a Supernatural Work)

Questions for thought – What does the Bible teach?

Regeneration according to the Calvinism’s (reformed theology) perspective is that a person must “first” be born again, made alive, quickened, regenerated, of which they are then saved, and now they are able to believe and have faith in Jesus Christ.

  1. How were people “regenerated” prior to the work of the cross and resurrection according to John 1:12-13, John 7:37-39, John 14:16-17, John 20:22?
  2. Where do we read in the Old Testament that people were regenerated in order that they were then able to follow the Lord God?

Is the doctrine that regeneration precedes faith true or false? Is this Biblical? What does the Bible teach?


This is an open discussion on examining does regeneration precede faith for both Calvinist’s and non-Calvinist’s.



9 thoughts on “Examining Calvinism – Reformed Theology on Regeneration: True or False Does Regeneration Precede Faith? Who was regenerated in the Old Testament?

  1. Looking at the Scriptures

    12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)

    People become children of God after they receive and believe in Jesus, not vice versa.

    37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39)

    No one had received the Holy Spirit (indwelling) prior to Jesus being glorified, thus the work of the cross and resurrection. Thus no one was born again, regenerated until Jesus was glorified.

    16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; 17 that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. (John 14)

    The disciples (and others) did have the Holy Spirit alongside them, guiding and using them. When Jesus said the Holy Spirit “will be in you” was future tense, meaning they had not received the Holy Spirit yet, thus they were not born again yet.

    19 So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (John 20:19-22)

    After Jesus death and resurrection we see that the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples and they then were born again, regenerated, a new creation. This is not to be confused with Acts 1 & 2 where they disciples received the Holy Spirit with power where they spoke in tongues to be witnesses to the lost.

    The question is, who was regenerated-born again prior to the work of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ?

    Posted by Kelly Powers | September 21, 2015, 9:30 AM
  2. Jesus speaking to Nicodemus: John 3:3 (HCSB) 3 Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
    This conversation occurred before the cross, so it seems that all the Old Testament Saints were born again. Abraham was saved and made righteous based on His faith. It seems that Salvation was no different in the OT than what we experience today with possibly one exception: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

    Posted by Ernest Strauss | September 22, 2015, 11:43 AM
  3. One other comment on regeneration – The Calvinist incorrectly define regeneration as an act of God SEPARATE from salvation. In Titus we see that regeneration is HOW we are saved. Titus 3:5 (HCSB)
    5 He saved us— not by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
    Based on this definition I think you could say if you are saved you are regenerated (born again) and also if you are regenerated you are saved (which the Calvinist must deny – claiming that regeneration precedes faith)

    Posted by Ernest Strauss | September 22, 2015, 12:02 PM
  4. Earnest, I am hesitant to jump into this debate and this will most likely be my only post. There is a topic of study referred to as the Ordo Salutis (The Order of Salvation). This is a list of all of the things that happen in order for a person to reach heaven. I am a full 5point calvinist, have been for 20 years, and I have never run across a single calvinist that separates regeneration from salvation. The issue Kelly has brought up is an issue within the ordo salutis.

    Thus I would exhort you to create a straw man. This is not an issue of definition. Kelly himself even emphasizes that this is an issue of order when he says, “a person must “first” be born again.”

    Here is a common definition of the Calvinist Ordo Salutis:
    Ordo Salutis (Order of Salvation)
    1) Election—God’s choosing to save some men
    2) General Call – God’s invitation to men to faith & repentance
    3) Regeneration – God’s creating a New Heart
    4) Conversion—God’s changing the will
    A) Faith
    B) Repentance
    5) Justification—God’s Judicious act declaring us righteous (by means of faith)
    6) Adoption—God’s receiving of one as of His own child (by means of faith)
    7) Sanctification—God’s changing of a sinner into a saint (by means of faith)
    8) Glorification— God’s final transformation

    I am assuming that these doctrines will be received as being biblical even if there are some minor variations with the brief definition given.

    I hope this list will encourage you to be more fair with the calvinist position.

    Posted by gccpalmharbor | September 24, 2015, 7:29 PM
  5. gccpalm

    I am sure there is accuracy in what you have shared from the Calvinist view. However regeneration = becoming born again, spiritually alive in Jesus Christ. According to Calvinism teachers and sources “regeneration” precedes faith thus as I shared a person must become born again to then become converted (which is essentially born again), thus illogical and unbiblical.

    As I shared the Scriptures, the Scriptures, not me, demonstrate “no one” was born again as the New Testament understanding is before the work of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, and then the Holy Spirit to be given.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts

    Posted by Kelly Powers | September 24, 2015, 9:57 PM
  6. Kelly,
    I wasn’t planning on adding anything else, this is your blog and you should have the last word. Just to be clear, the Calvinist position sees regeneration as a part of the redemptive work not the totality of it.

    BTW, I found your blog because of the work you have done exposing oneness pentecostals and specifically, Phillips Craig and Dean as heretics. Please keep up that good work. My heart breaks for the people being deceived by them. Oneness preachers truly preach another gospel which means salvation is not possible for those who believe their message. They need the truth. I am glad you have been recording their own words and comments because there has been a major effort to scrub their sites and materials of language the implies a denial of the trinity. They want to sound like trinitarians even though they despise the doctrine and the triune God. Again, Just wanted to say thanks for your work.

    Posted by gccpalmharbor | September 25, 2015, 5:50 AM
  7. Hello gccpalm

    Thanks again for taking the time to share some feedback. First yes I realize what you have shared in regards to regeneration and redemption, thanks. Secondly, thank you for your appreciation of things in reference to PCD and those who are “if you will” closet Oneness Pentecostals. That exchange took place some years ago but I from time to time look online to see if anything has changed, any public statements, and still nothing to my knowledge. I have no joy in sharing those kinds of things except that it does help people be informed that they are in fact not of the Christian faith. Lord be with you, thanks again.

    Posted by Kelly Powers | September 25, 2015, 8:11 AM
  8. You accused me of being unfair yet I merely showed you the error of your Ordo salutis. The major error calvinists have in this area is not understanding what regeneration is. I gave you scriptural support.
    The Bible tells us that faith precedes regeneration. Consider this Ephesians 1:12-13 KJV
    That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] In whom ye also trusted , after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
    Rather than resorting to ad hominems perhaps you could defend your position with scriptural support of your position. I do not agree that your list has any Biblical basis of being a chronological order for salvation..
    When it comes to Chronology and agency, Calvinism has salvation wrong.

    Posted by Ernest Strauss | September 25, 2015, 8:18 AM
  9. “For God’s free gift of mercy & grace not 2 be offered to all humanity is a different gospel & God’s Word warns us about this, it’s as simple as that. And calvinism errors by diminishing God’s infinite power and the harmony of the entirety of His Word. I’m nobody but He loves me how amazing!!” I wonder why there’s a need to cling do anything other than the Word of God there’s my question to a calvanist or an arminian? I get why these movements started however these are man’s interpretations of God’s Word and will never have authority over It… but sadly it’s caused a lot of heartache and separation even in my own life there’s no peace there!!! Next question how do you know your chosen? Don’t put God in a box that would be my recommendation to all those to have to stand firmly in one camp or the other. Deuteronomy 6:5 NIV 1985
    “Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” Let’s keep mind last in loving Him like Jesus also said in Matthew 22:37 , Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27 💝 thank you for this blog..

    Posted by Reggie DePew | March 26, 2018, 6:33 AM

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