Friday, March 15, 2013


Neo-Calvinists and Neo-Reformed Bible Teachers are often cited teaching that in order for someone to believe the gospel they must first be regenerated. This is based on a faulty application of 1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV):
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
What such Teachers and students of this kind of Calvinist/Reformed theology do not understand or possibly forget, is that the Spirit of God accompanies the gospel (and all of the Word of God also called the Sword of the Spirit, Ephesians 6:17) to enlighten the natural man who, without the Spirit's aid, would not comprehend both his lost condition and the truth of the gospel that he may be saved. Now they may not accept the gospel which the Holy Spirit aids them to understand that is, they may shun the light but it is not that the light is not being given by the Word of God by means of the Spirit's enlightenment. 

And as for here - this context - it is referring to doctrines beyond the gospel for which the natural man is not given spiritual enlightenment. But as to the gospel, the Scriptures are quite clear, that the Spirit of God has come into the world with regard to the unsaved to enlighten men about sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:7-11).

But that is not may main point here, rather my objective is to compare some Scriptures and understand what they, in the least imply, but to me seem rather explicit regarding the order or the point at which regeneration occurs when we are saved. The first text is from Acts 16:31 (ESV):
And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
And the second is Titus 3:5 (ESV):
He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Now, as we look in Acts 16:31 something has to occur before we are saved. What is that something? Belief is that something which must occur and specifically belief in the gospel which is what is being expressed when stating, "believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". The title and/or expression, "Lord Jesus Christ" is shorthand for the gospel, that God (Lord) came in human form (Jesus) and was the God man, the prophesied Messiah (Christ) who  lived sinless, who suffered for our sins and was put to death on the cross, and was resurrected that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
So to be saved one must first believe. Belief first, then salvation.
 What Happens at Salvation? 

Well, that brings us to Titus 3:5 where it says we are " the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit". Remember again, salvation comes when? After belief. 

So here in Titus we have documented for us, the spiritual realities of what transpires when salvation occurs after we have believed. Not only are we regenerated (paliggenesía-brought back to spiritual life, spiritually resurrected) which includes our spiritual washing away of sin but we are renewed (anakaínōsis - to make anew or to make something new). The word renewed is referring to our being a new creature in Christ which is precisely what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV):
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
So consider the absurdity being forwarded by those who insist regeneration occurs before one is saved, because understand, regeneration and renewal occur together and they aren't merely some pre-faith enlivenment of the dead human spirit but a washing away of sin and the creation of a new person. To assert this transpires before we ever believe, that is to claim the unsaved person possesses the properties of salvation before ever believing the gospel and this is contrary both to the order which is presented in Scripture and more importantly, the nature of the gospel which again, is what gives us these things.

Understand what is being charged by Neo-Calvinists and Neo-Reformed types (sadly by some classic Calvinists and Reformed as well), that products and properties of salvation are given to unbelieving men, that they are made new creatures (a new spiritual species) but as well, washed clean through regeneration, before they ever believe! Absurd is a nice way of putting such theological atrocity.


Kevl said...

Glenn, putting Regeneration prior to faith is a folly required by some particular theological systems. IMO it is a sign of a en extremely flexible hermeneutic, which is therefore not dependable.

When I hear that someone holds to such a position it is an indicator that I cannot fully trust what they teach. It is an unfortunate thing to learn about someone, but I'm glad that it is something that comes up easily so it's easy to see who I should avoid.

Anonymous said...

After years of listening to Calvinists specifically YRR, I have come to think that they ignore that Paul was writing to "believers".

I see this in lots of their sermons too. It is as if they are preaching to unbelievers over and over.

They tend to teach sanctification type of passages as Justification passages.

They completely ignore the context and the audience in exegesis.

I think your excellent post here bears that out. It is one of those things, if you know it is there, you can start seeing it more clearly.

thank you for taking the time it took to do this post.


Steve Finnell said...


Most people who believe that men are saved by faith alone simply disregard the Scriptures that express water baptism as being essential to forgiveness of sins.

What is the washing of regeneration?

Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done , but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,(NKJV)

God saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. What is is washing of regeneration?

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.(New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition)

He saved us through the water of rebirth, not because we were born of water the first time. No one can be reborn of amniotic fluid, that would be the first birth.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.(New Revised Standard Version)

You cannot take the water out of washing of regeneration.

Titus 3:5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. (New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised)

Being reborn of water and the Spirit cannot be separated.

John 3:3-5 ...unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." 5. ....unless one is born of water and the Spirit , he cannot enter the kingdom of God. (NKJV)

You must be again of water and the Spirit. Born of the Spirit alone cannot saved you.


Ephesians Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,.... (NKJV)

Christ sanctified and cleansed the body of Christ with the washing of water. The washing of regeneration.

Ephesians 5:26 He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word. (Common English Bible)

There is no rebirth without water baptism.

Ephesians 5:26 He made the church holy by the power of his word, and he made it pure by washing it with water.(Contemporary English Version)

There is no dry washing of regeneration.


Acts 22:16 'And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." (NKJV)

No sins (under the New Covenant) are wash away without water baptism.

Acts 22:16 Now, don't wait any longer. Get up, be baptized andwash away your sins, trusting in Jesus to save you.' (Easy-to-Read Version)

The washing of regeneration.


1. Titus 3:5 not by works of righteous which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)


2. John 3:5 Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say, unless one isborn of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.(NKJV)


Acts 2:38 The Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)


There is no salvation without the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit.



Alex Guggenheim said...


The passage in Titus uses a genitive of possession. That means that the washing done is by the Holy Spirit.

When we speak of water baptism and when the Scriptures present water baptism, it does so speaking of one human baptizing another in water.

You did not get baptized into water by the Holy Spirit, your Pastor did that.

In Titus, this is talking about a baptism alright, but not one with water, one that is possessed by God the Holy Spirit in which you are made clean by him in your inner person through his divine sanctification and then regeneration of your person (raising you to spiritual life).

The genitive of possession in the Greek means the one baptizing you in the Titus text is the Holy Spirit and he does not baptize us into or with water, that is done by humans and namely those called to do so or when they are not available, a human surrogate but for certain, a fellow believer.