You said, "When God regenerated me (as an adult) I repented and believed in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, God did not open my heart to even initially hear for the first time the only true Biblical gospel until many years later." By what standard do you judge that God regenerated you before you heard and believed the gospel? How do you know you were regenerated back then? When you repented, of what did you repent? Did you repent of ever thinking that your salvation was conditioned on yourself? Did you repent of former idolatry and dead works? When you believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, did you believe that these things had any meaning whatsoever? Did you believe that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished anything? If you did not repent of dead works and you did not believe that the work of Jesus Christ was the only ground of your salvation, how can you say that you were regenerated? Was it some kind of feeling you had?
You said, "Please specify any New Testament scripture, Marc, proving that both take place simultaneously." And I say to you, please specify any Scripture that shows that conversion - which includes belief in the gospel - takes place years after regeneration! Jesus said in Mark 16:16 that all who do not believe the gospel are lost. The Holy Spirit through Paul said in Romans 10:3 that all who are ignorant of the righteousness of God revealed in the gospel are lost. You say that not all who do not believe the gospel and not all who are ignorant of God's righteousness are lost.
Salvation is God glorifying Himself in the hearts of His people. When He saves His people, He brings them under the sound of the gospel and causes them to understand and believe this gospel, to His glory. Look up the word "knowledge" in your concordance some time. You will see that where there is no knowledge, there is no salvation.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Marc D. Carpenter
There are many passages that support my position; in fact, if I typed in all the passages, it would take up many pages. The Bible is full of passages that unequivocally put forth the truth that KNOWLEDGE and REGENERATION are inseparable. I will give you a few to chew on, along with some questions.
"And this is life eternal, that they might KNOW thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (Jn. 17:3). What KNOWLEDGE is involved in KNOWING God and Christ, which is eternal life?
"And ye shall KNOW the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). What is the TRUTH that God's people KNOW that sets them free?
"... they have no KNOWLEDGE that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray to a god that cannot save" (Is. 45:20b). What is this KNOWLEDGE that these idolaters are missing?
"For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to KNOWLEDGE" (Rm. 10:2). What is this KNOWLEDGE that these lost religionists are missing?
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: in whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. ... For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Cor. 4:3-6). What is this LIGHT that the lost people BLINDED to? What is the light of the KNOWLEDGE of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ that has shined in believer's hearts?
"But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of DOCTRINE which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became servants of righteousness" (Romans 6:17-18). What is that DOCTRINE that believers believed when they were made free from sin?
I could go on and on.
How do you judge saved and lost? Is it by the DOCTRINE they confess, as compared to the standard of GOSPEL DOCTRINE, or is it by some other standard? Do you speak peace to those who are ignorant of God's righteousness revealed in the gospel - those who do not KNOW that the imputed righteousness of Christ is the only ground of salvation?
Soli Deo Gloria,
Marc D. Carpenter
Thank you for your recent letter. Let me try to explain the logic I was using when I quoted the verses on knowledge. The Bible makes it clear that those who are saved have a specific knowledge and that those who are lost lack this specific knowledge. Thus, when someone goes from being lost to being saved, he goes from lacking this knowledge to possessing this knowledge. The Scripture proves that there is not a period of days, weeks, or years between regeneration and possession of this knowledge. How? Because Scripture clearly states that those who lack this knowledge are lost. And Scripture also clearly states that we can judge others to be lost who do not possess this knowledge. In your scheme of things, a person can be regenerated and yet be ignorant of this knowledge for an extended period of time. Thus, in your scheme of things, we cannot judge someone to be lost who does not believe the gospel - someone who believes in salvation conditioned on the sinner.
So what is this knowledge that all Christians possess and that no unregenerate person possesses? I noticed that you did not answer any of my questions regarding knowledge from my last letter. I would like you to answer them.
Regarding my position that I do not judge people to be in hell when I do not know what they believed upon their dying breath: I find it to be interesting that you believe that there can be months or years between regeneration and conversion - that a saved person can actually deny the gospel for a time before eventually believing the true gospel - yet you say that Spurgeon and Whitefield are most definitely in hell. How do you know that they, for most of their lives, weren't just regenerate people who hadn't yet been converted? How do you know that their conversion did not occur a minute or a day or a week before their deaths? And what specific criteria do you use to judge someone reprobate versus just unregenerate? If you see a preacher of Arminianism who is planning to go to the mission field to spread his false gospel to the world, do you judge him to be reprobate? I would be very interested to know what standard you use to judge a lost person to be reprobate. As for me, I will judge everyone to be unregenerate who does not believe the true gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the atoning blood and imputed righteousness of Christ (a judgment you do not make, since you believe that someone who does not believe the true gospel could be a regenerate but unconverted person), and I realize that some unregenerate persons - those who do not now believe the true gospel and who do not now judge people lost who do not believe the true gospel - are among God's elect.
I look forward to your reply.
Marc D. Carpenter
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