First, "Regeneration and Effectual Calling".
When the Westminster Standards use the term “effectual calling,” they include in that Divine calling the idea of regeneration....Although regeneration may be properly included in a definition of effectual calling, these two works of God can also be distinguished as two distinct, but inseparable works of God in the hearts of God’s elect. (691)
"Regeneration in the strictest sense of the word, that is, as the begetting again, takes place in the sub-conscious life of man, and is quite independent of any attitude which he may assume with reference to it. Calling, on the other hand, addresses
itself to the consciousness, and implies a certain disposition of the conscious life. This follows from the fact that regeneration works from within, while calling comes from without." 48. Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1941), 471. (691)
It is helpful to realize the logical order of effectual calling and regeneration in the experience of an individual, bearing in mind that this logical order does not imply a chronological order. (1) The general call of the gospel generally precedes or coincides with the operation of the Holy Spirit. (2) Then by the exertion of recreative omnipotence, God produces in the individual new life, changing the disposition of his soul, enlightening his mind, and renewing his will....(3) Having received “ears that hear,” healed of their deafness caused by depravity, the effectual call of God is now heard and embraced by the sinner, and is brought home effectively to the heart....(4) Effectual calling secures through the instrumentality of the Word of truth, the first exercises of the individual’s new heart and spiritual disposition, which exercises are faith in Christ, repentance, and submission to Him. (691-692)
Is faith the effect of the new birth? Or is the new birth the effect of faith?...Is regeneration the consequence of faith? Or is faith a consequence of regeneration?
Which has priority in the order of salvation: faith or regeneration?
The Anglican, John Stott, wrote in his commentary on 1 John: “[B]elieving is the consequence, not the cause, of the new birth.”55 Agreeing with that view, the Presbyterian John Murray, in his book, Redemption Accomplished and Applied, speaks of faith as the effect of regeneration, and of regeneration as the prerequisite of faith. 55. John Stott, The Epistles of John (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1964), 172. (694)
The final arbiter in all such controversies is the written Word of God (Isa. 8:20). It tells us that regeneration, as the recreative act of God, is the source of all moral changes in the heart and life: “If any one is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). (695)
The effects of the new birth include: (1) The ability to “see” and to “enter” the kingdom of God (John 3:3–6); (2) The practice of “righteousness” in our daily lives (1 John 2:29); (3) The “knowing” and “loving” of God (1 John 4:7); (4) The “turning” from sin day by day (1 John 3:9); (5) The “overcoming” of the world (1 John 5:4); (6) The “loving” of other people (1 John 3:14); and (7) The “victory” over Satan’s dominion (1 John 5:18). And the point to remember in all this is that regeneration is inseparable from its effects. (695)
The Scriptural terms for regeneration are: “quickened” or “made alive” (Eph. 2:5), (re) “creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), “workmanship” (Eph. 2:10), “regeneration” (Tit. 3:5), (new) “birth” (John 3:3, 5), (spiritual) “resurrection” (Col. 3:1). All of these terms indicate that regeneration is the work of God alone and not of man in any sense (John 1:13)....It is entirely and exclusively an act of the triune God and, therefore, it is real, permanent and complete....We have as much to do with our spiritual birth as we did with our physical birth! (696)
The necessity for regeneration should be obvious to anyone familiar with the Bible....The unregenerate cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). (696)
This spiritual quickening brings life to a dead sinner, enabling him to believe in Jesus....To quicken means more than to assist, enlighten or persuade. It means to bring life where formerly there was only death. Therefore, since quickening is the impartation of new life in Christ, it can be called a new birth or regeneration: “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Tit. 3:5). (697)
God does not wait for man to take the first step before He acts. He Himself takes
the initiative. In Genesis 3:15, God affirms that this He WILL do, thereby enabling otherwise helpless man to overcome the power of evil through faith: “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith” (1 John 5:4). (698)
In Deuteronomy 30:6 it is not our love for the Lord that produces spiritual circumcision of the heart. Rather, it is the spiritual circumcision of the heart that produces love for the Lord. (698)
Man MUST act, he MUST choose, he MUST respond to the claims and offers of the gospel in the way God commands, if he expects to be saved from his sin. BUT, the choice of a man to believe in Jesus and his acting upon that choice are predicated upon the enabling, regenerative action of God in his life. (699)
Being born of God is not the result of believing in Christ, it is the cause of believing in Christ. (700)
...since God alone is the author of regeneration, His divine work is irresistible, like the wind—it cannot be thwarted, reversed or finally resisted; it is sovereign, also like the wind, in that it is bestowed on whomever God chooses; and it is mysterious, like the wind, in that it cannot be fully perceived or understood. (700-701)
Regeneration produces faith. (702)
In John 6:29, faith in Christ is described as a work. Therefore, unless we believe in salvation by works, we are forced to conclude that we who believe in Christ do so because we were recreated by God in Christ unto that end. Faith does not make us new creations in Christ; it is the new creation that makes us believers. (703)
THE IMMEDIATE EFFECTS OF THIS MORAL TRANSFORMATION OF THE HEART BY THE SPIRIT ARE: (1) The opening of the eyes of our understanding to the excellency and divine authority of the revealed truth of Jesus Christ; and (2) The movement of the entire inner life of a person to embrace that truth and that Savior. (705)
Our concern is the power of God to save sinners and the total inability of sinners
to save themselves. The point and purpose of this study is to uphold the glorious truth of the Bible that God not only offers salvation to undeserving and helpless sinners, but that He also, by the new birth, enables His chosen people to respond to His overtures of love in the gospel with faith and repentance. (705)
The common operations of the Spirit mentioned in Larger Catechism Q. 68 could include what we call today “the common grace of God.” God does bestow various favors graciously and generously upon all people, elect and non-elect alike. (707)
(1) It is COMMON grace. All unregenerate and non-elect people are the recipients of God’s common and universal and abundant generosity....“[T]here can be no escape from the conclusion that goodness and beneficence, kindness and mercy are here
attributed to God in his relations to the ungodly.” 61 Murray, Collected Writings, 2:105. (707)
(2) It is common GRACE. God’s favors upon the ungodly are always and without doubt undeserved and unmerited. (708)
(3) It is NON-SANCTIFYING grace. Whereas special, saving grace has a regenerating, sanctifying effect on the elect upon whom it is bestowed, the bestowal of the favors of common grace upon the ungodly does not have a regenerating, sanctifying effect. (708)
(4) It is BASED ON THE ATONING DEATH OF JESUS CHRIST. Every favor God bestows upon sinful man is given on account of the life and work of Jesus Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant (Eph. 1:3; Tit. 3:5, 6)....“While Christ died for the purpose of saving only the elect, nevertheless, the whole human race, including the impenitent and the reprobate, derive great benefits from His death. The blessings of common grace may be regarded as indirect results of the atoning work of Christ.” 65 Louis Berkhof, Summary of Christian Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1938), 121–22. (708-709)
(1) It restrains sin in the sinner. ...
(2) It restrains God’s wrath. ...
(3) It restrains evil in the world. ...
(4) It bestows good and excites to good....Creation itself is the recipient of God’s personal and abundant generosity (Ps. 65:5–13; 104:13–23; 145:9, 15, 16; 136:25). ...
(5) It preserves some sense of truth, morality and religion in the ungodly. ...
(6) It enables the ungodly to perform outward good and civil righteousness. ...
(7) It brings to the ungodly many temporal blessings in this present life. (709-713)
Common grace serves the purpose of special, saving grace; and saving grace has as its purpose the glory of God in the salvation of the elect. (714)
"Biblical law is a means of grace: common [and non-sanctifying] grace to those who are perishing, special [and sanctifying] grace to those who are regenerate. We all benefit from God’s extension of blessings to us when we are externally faithful to the external terms of the covenant." 79. North, Dominion and Common Grace, 49. (714)
FIRST, "the practical effect of this principle is very great. It means a profound respect for, and appreciation of, every good and noble thing, and it is this philosophy and ethic that has made Christianity in its true expression a force in every department of legitimate human interest and vocation....It has striven to give expression to the Christian faith in politics, economics, industry, education, art, science, philosophy, for its controlling conception has been the absolute sovereignty of God in all of life." 80. Murray, Collected Writings, 2:117–18.
SECOND, to whom much is given, much is required!
THIRD, some have abused the doctrine of common grace in their philosophies of education saying that since “all truth is God’s truth,” students should spend most of their time in school studying non-Christian works and know they are products of common grace....Without a central and comprehensive focus on the written
Word of Truth, education in the truth is impossible.
FOURTH, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great and you will be sons of the Most High, for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35). (715-716)