Posts tagged ‘regeneration’

A Direct Cooperation With The Spirit

A very common teaching today is that no one can come to God without being acted upon by the Holy Spirit. It is taught that this action of the Spirit happens independent of human cooperation, and causes the sinner to be able to understand spiritual things and seek after God. Where do such doctrines come from? Let’s look at a few verses that seem to support this position.

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. (John 6:44, 45 NASB)

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:14-16 NASB)

If we just consider those passages, then the direct action teaching seems pretty solidly rooted in Scripture. But the problem is this; those are not the only verses on the subject, and we need to consider everything that has been revealed in the Word before coming to a conclusion.

If we agree that faith is required to please God, then we need to determine how faith is obtained. Paul said in Romans 10,

How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!” However, they did not all heed the good news; for Isaiah says, “LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. (Romans 10:14-17 NASB)

Notice that the verse does not say that faith comes by election, but by hearing the Word of Christ. Paul confirms this when addressing the Galatians.

“This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:2 NASB)

From these two verses we can see that faith comes when a sinner hears the Word of Christ. This is also true because the Word of God is not a dead letter. It has inherent spiritual power within it.

“For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 NASB)

The Word of God, empowered by the Spirit in cooperation with faith growing in those who receive it, has the power to draw men to Christ and renew the mind. This is not limited to the salvation experience. This faith building and renewing of our minds is a lifelong journey of growth in the things of God.

So it is not a sovereign Divine act that enables sinners to come to God. It is, rather, a Divine cooperation with the Spirit that results in salvation.


The Holy Spirit In Action

Are you led by the Spirit? Yes? That’s great, because Romans 5 says “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”(Romans 5:5 NASB) So, just like most things, we need to explore just what the New Testament means when it talks about what being “led by the Spirit” for Christians.

First off, let’s find out what being led by the Spirit does NOT mean!
1. It does not mean that we presently have new doctrinal truth being revealed to us.
Jesus told his Apostles that the Spirit would lead them into all truth .
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.” (John 16:13-15 NASB)
In addition that statement, Jude said that the truth was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3). We have the fullness of truth manifested in the person of Jesus, and supernaturally passed on to His Apostles. Thus, the first Christians in Acts 2 continued steadfastly in the Apostles doctrine (Acts 2:42).
So if someone says they have received a new teaching from the Holy Spirit, they are lying or deceived! And if anyone claims the Spirit has revealed something to them that contradicts the Wore, they are false and must be rejected.
2. While our interaction with the Word is the primary way we are led by the Spirit, the notion that this is the only way is also incorrect. Why is this true? Because the Holy Spirit physically indwells the believer (Romans 5:5). This initially occurs when we are regenerated or born again. The Holy Spirit is the force behind the Word of God that makes it “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.” The Spirit is what has the power to generate faith in the heart, which leads souls to salvation. That principle is what makes it so essential that we preach the Word, because only the WORD has the power to change hearts and minds!

Without the indwelling Holy Spirit, we would not be capable of understanding spiritual things.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. ” (1 Corinthians 2:12-15 NASB)

So to summarize, the Spirit is not giving new revelation or adding to Scripture. But that does not mean, on the other side, that He is silent and only speaks to us via the written Word (although that is probably 99% of it). In fact, many times it is the Spirit that brings a verse alive to us right when we need it. He is the source of those times we read the Word and instead of being an intellectual exercise, a passage or a single verse penetrates to the very core of our being and we are changed and our mind transformed just a little more.

The Spirit also regenerates sinners, causing them to be born again (John 3:5-8) and also leads by communicating with our Spirits, in line with and never contradicting the written Word.
I believe this to be a fairly balanced approach.


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