Great Quotes: Merrill C. Tenney on John 1:12-13 And Faith Preceding Regeneration

This provides the initial definition of ‘believe’ by equating it with ‘receive.’ When we accept a gift, whether tangible or intangible, we thereby demonstrate our confidence in its reality and trustworthiness. We make it part of our own possessions. By being so received, Jesus gives to those who receive him a right to membership in the family of God.

‘Become’ indicates clearly that people are not the spiritual children of God by natural birth, for we cannot become what we already are. This verb implies a change of nature. The word children (tekna) is parallel to the Scottish bairns– “born ones.” It emphasizes the vital origin and is used as a term of endearment (cf. Luke 15:31). Believers are God’s ‘little ones,’ related to him by birth.” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, pg. 32)

The implications are obvious.  The new birth is received by faith and we become God’s children through faith.  John 1:12 simply cannot be made to comport with the Calvinist claim that regeneration precedes faith.  Indeed, it proves that contention false.

Related:

Dr. Brian Abasciano on the Conditionality  Implied in Romans 9:16 and its Connection to John 1:12-13

The Arminian and Calvinist Ordo Salutis: A Brief Comparative Study

Does Jesus Teach that Regeneration Precedes Faith in John 3:3, 6?

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One Response

  1. Excellent point….Equating gift believe with receive. Yes, in Calvinism, one does not “receive” the gift, in the indeterministic, sense as an autonomous individual..the gift is involuntarily implanted into the person. Once the gift is implanted, it functions to alter voluntary choice. This follows the model of monergism.

    But I feel I’ve discovered a significant key for understanding the psychology of Calvinisms, which was pointed to by William Lane Craig. Calvinism incorporates *AS-IF* thinking/speaking/writing.

    The Calvinist is to:
    1) Believe [A]: That *ALL* things (without exception) are determined in advance by god, such that all choices are “NOT UP TO US”.

    While at the same time:

    2) Speak and write *AS-IF* [A] is not true. (i.e. to speak and write AS-IF man has a degree of autonomy, where choices “ARE UP TO US”

    Dr. Craig ascribes this to Calvinism’s psychology, and it is actually taught by Calvin himself. This psychology of double-think serves two purposes.

    1) It allows Calvinism to retain a form of credibility within general Christianity, by speaking determinism out of one face, and indeterminism out of another.
    2) It allows the individual Calvinist to assume God’s intentions as always benevolent, while his theology dictates the opposite.

    Blessings!

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