Human Sin and Spirit Regeneration Pt. 2

ss     In part 1 of this particular study, the condition of our human nature was the focus. We now know that the state of the human soul before coming to the saving knowledge of Jesus is in fact dead. Part 1 ended with the discussion of Ephesians 2: 1-3 (for a reminder click here) where Paul talks about the state of our spiritual lives in which we once formally walked. We were by nature, “Children of wrath”. The question that will be raised and answered in this part of the study will be dealing with the role of the Holy Spirit in regeneration and our human role, if we even have a role in our own spiritual regeneration.

     For the sake of this study, consider Ephesians chapter 2 once more. Again, we find that in the first three verses of this chapter that Paul describes for us our spiritual situation. “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins” (remember Paul is talking to believers now but was referring to before they were believers). Being spiritually dead means being totally cut off from the living God. Before salvation in Christ, we are spiritual corpses. However, Paul continues in verses 4-6 and shares with the reader this bit of important information from Ephesians 2: 4-6,

     4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

     Paul uses the word “but” (this one little word packs such significant meaning behind it. I am thankful for this little word) in this passage and then follows up with how the human spiritual condition of death can be atoned for. Paul says that because of the immense love that God shows for His people, even though we are sinners and are dead to Him, God still brings us to life with Jesus by the grace of God’s mercy and the work of Jesus’ death on the cross. Paul in this passage gives us great insight into why God makes humans spiritually alive, but Paul does not show reference to how God does it. This is where the role of the Holy Spirit comes in. Before moving on from this passage notice that Paul says that God Himself is the one who brings us alive. We have no part in coming to life ourselves. This will be an important fact to know as this article progresses.

     The argument must now be taken to an all new level because it as this point that I will argue the difference between monergism and synergism. These two concepts are crucial to understand when talking about salvation. Monergism basically means “one work”. At the point of an individual coming to the saving grace of Jesus, God alone, by Himself and without human aid, saves the sinner and brings the sinner to life. This is in direct opposition to what is known as synergism which means “two or more working together”. Those who hold to this concept say that humans work alongside God in obtaining salvation. The sinner must make a choice first before the Spirit moves to obtain saving grace from God. There are many who hold to this view in pertaining to salvation, but I am prepared to defend the idea of monergism. At this point, there may be some who will not take this seriously because sounds so far from what is currently being taught, but hear me out because this is important! (For more information on these two concepts, click monergism and synergism).

     To get a Biblical view of the monergistic position, turn to John chapter 3 and take a look what Jesus is saying there. To lay the foundation for what is being said, a guy by the name of Nicodemus, who was a “ruler of the Jews” approaches Jesus about the miracles that Jesus is performing and Jesus answers with this, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” What does this mean? Consider John 3: 4-8 for a better understanding,

     4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

     Clearly Nicodemus himself did not fully understand what Jesus was talking about. Jesus is saying that in order for a person to see the Kingdom of God, they must be born of water and the Spirit. Jesus is referring not to water in the literal sense, but in the sense of a cleansing by the Spirit. Jesus in this case is referring to a washing or spiritual cleansing of the human soul that is done by the Holy Spirit Himself. Notice then what Jesus says in verse 8. Jesus compares the working of the Spirit to the blowing of wind. To humans, the Spirit is unpredictable; He brings to life the spiritually dead. The Holy Spirit cannot be controlled or understood at times, but His work in the lives of people is evident and the Holy Spirit is saving people apart from human help.

     There is one last idea that must be discussed in order to fully understand the concept of monergism in the work of salvation. This idea consists of the idea of cannot vs. will not. This debate has to do with the very implications of monergism and synergism. Before a sinner is saved, do they have or don’t they have the ability to make the decision to be saved? I will argue that the sinner does NOT have the ability to make a choice to accept Christ without the Holy Spirit opening their eyes to the truth first, thus, the Holy Spirit must regenerate (to bring alive) the sinner’s soul first. So, logically, the Holy Spirit regenerating happens before anything else. Consider these two verses from John 6,

     44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

     65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

     As you can plainly see, even Jesus says that “no one CAN come to Him” unless the Father has granted it to them. In application, we as humans born into sin do not have the ability to choose life in Christ without His help first. It is when God does save sinners that He alone does it without help from us. We cannot provide help because we are spiritual corpses and with no spiritual life in us. Before God saves us, we are dead to Him. Consider this last passage from Ephesians 2: 8-10 as a helpful reminder,

     8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

     Please friends, take notice to this passage. It says that we have been saved by grace through faith and our faith is not even our own, but God gives grace, mercy, and faith as a gift to people who are undeserving. Our salvation is not a result of human works but of the work of Christ alone. That is exactly why we cannot choose Christ because before being saved, we were dead to doing good works for God. So friends, and specifically those I have written this for, please consider that God alone is the one who saves and that as sinners before a Holy and just God, we are in total need of His grace and mercy to be alive. I ask that for any of you who have read this to consider monergism too. If you do not agree with me, that is fine. We still worship an almighty God who is there and who is in control of everything. All the glory and honor be to Jesus Christ our King who is on the throne as we speak, guiding and directing all that happens!

For more information on this topic, click here.


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