"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."
(I John 5: 4)
What is it that is "begotten"
of God? Certainly it is scriptural to say that a person
is begotten. Jesus said to Nicodemus - "YOU must be born again."
(John 3: 7) John said - "WHO were born of God."
(John 1: 13)
This does not include the "whole man," as some old Hardshells contended. The body and flesh are not renewed and transformed. The soul, heart,
is what is reborn and regenerated in conversion. The body or whole man is not renewed till the resurrection of the just. "If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness."
(Rom. 8: 10 NASV)
is begotten when a new person is begotten. Thus quickening and resurrection may be called a begetting, a genesis of being. Existence
comes with life too. This is signified in the Greek word gennao.
According to John, not only is life and new existence begotten
, but so is faith
in Christ. He says faith that is "begotten"
of God will be victorious; And, he gives this as the very reason why faith overcomes. It is because it is divinely begotten. Thus, to be spiritually born of God is to be a new person in heart, to have spiritual life, to have faith in Christ. There is no such character who is born again but not in possession of spiritual life and faith.
That faith is begotten may also be gathered from Paul's testimony.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."
(Gal. 5: 22-23)
The Greek word for "fruit"
and is sometimes used in reference to birth as when speaking of the "fruit of the womb."
It denotes offspring
. Thus, not only is faith begotten when a person is begotten, but so also are the other characteristics enumerated.
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."
(I Peter 1: 3)
Peter says that hope
is begotten in the Christian heart when he is begotten. Thus, the three leading Christian characteristic possessions, faith, hope,
, are begotten in new birth
I do not think any of this, however, offers any support for those Calvinists who affirm that sinners are born again before faith. We have as much reason to affirm that we are born again before we are spiritually alive as to affirm that we are born again before we believe.
It seems to me that the Bible writers often present faith as the means by which the new creature is brought into existence. They did not see this as contradictory to their affirmations that faith was begotten, and neither should we.
Paul taught that there are "things that accompany salvation."
(Heb. 6: 9) One cannot divorce faith, hope, and love from this salvation experience.
We come to Christ (believe) in order to have spiritual life. (John 5: 40). By believing we have life through his name. (John 20: 31) We believe to be saved, sanctified, justified, and sealed.
I agree with Pendleton on the ordo salutis. A case for each side may be made. Some scripture seems to put faith as a prior condition to regeneration, and some scripture seems to put faith after it.
If Scripture states the relationship of faith to regeneration in no definite and absolute order, and uses both orders in its language, then
1. We should not insist on a definite order
2. Insist that faith and regeneration are concurrent, each depending on each