Question 16: Are we spiritually dead and need regeneration to believe?

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Question 16

Are we spiritually dead and need regeneration to believe?

Here we are on question 16, a reader sent in.


“I read the article, 'God Doesn't Have Any Grandchildren.'

That's an article we wrote in our magazine that comes out bi-monthly and get it free.

“I agree with almost everything except I was confused about this.” She's quoting me. "In order to achieve that new birth, the Bible demands that we repent and believe the gospel." That's not my full quote, "At which point God does a supernatural work of regenerating the estranged soul." Now she says, "I believe that we are spiritually dead. I believe that we're spiritually dead and therefore incapable of coming to Christ unless we're first regenerated by the Holy Spirit." 

Now those of you hearing this, I guess you've guessed, this is a Calvinist. This is what the Calvinist's believe. Listen to this again. I know this is preposterous, but there's some questions I don't answer like the flat earth. This was almost to that point.

"I believe that we are spiritually dead and therefore incapable of coming to Christ unless we're first regenerated by the Holy Spirit. I believe we're drawn to the Lord and become cooperative, obedient in repentance and believing. I really lean towards explaining the gospel with the emphasis that Christ does all the work. I grew up in a church with altar calls and I honestly thought that my belief is what my salvation depended upon rather than Christ's work from start to finish. Lots of confusion and unrest in my spirit followed by many years. Thanks for listening."  ~Kathy


So I cannot address all this. I have a series called Sinful Nature on YouTube here. I think about five 45-minute long messages, well illustrated, full of scripture. You might want to go look at that, but let's just address a couple of the points here.

Are we Spiritually Dead?

This is the foundation of all Calvinism, that we're spiritually dead. That is that when Adam sinned, his spirit died, and so we're all born with a dead spirit. If we have a dead spirit, that means we don't have a spirit. That means it's nonexistent. It's dead. Now, here's what the Bible says about the human spirit. I'm just reading you a few of a hundred verses.

What does the Bible Say about spirits?

Job 32:8 "But there is a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."  That's the Book of Job in the Old Testament before anyone was born again. He said there's a spirit in man and the inspiration of the Almighty gives that spirit understanding. Every human being born has a spirit. There's never a passage in the Bible that says you got a dead spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:11 "For what man knoweth the things of man save the spirit of man which is in him."  So he said every man has a spirit and every man can know the things of God through his own spirit.

Ecclesiastes 12:7 "Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."  So a man dies and his spirit goes back to God. It's not a sinful spirit. It's not a dead spirit. It's the human spirit, which is what God created it to be.

James 4:5 "Do you think the scripture saith in vain, the spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?"  So the human spirit that dwells inside of us lusts and envies he said. If it were dead, it couldn't lust and envy. I know a lot of people'd like to have a dead spirit and get rid of that lust.

Isaiah 26:9 "With my soul have I desired thee in the night. Yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early."

Psalm 51:17 "The sacrifices of God are broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."  That's just a few of the verses that clearly say, recognize repeatedly, over and over, every book in the Bible, that there's a human spirit. It comes from God. He created it. It stays there until we die and then that spirit goes back to God.

To say it's dead is an invention of somebody's imagination starting in the 4th and 5th Centuries with a guy named Augustine, passed down through a Roman Catholic named Luther who tried to reform the church and got it about half reformed, and then a guy named Calvin who did not believe the Bible, but followed in the tradition of Luther and Augustine and came up with a preposterous doctrine of the flesh which is called Calvinism. Now I've got a series on that too, so look up that Sinful Nature series.

Now listen to this. This is an unregenerate, unrepentant, idol-worshiping king.

Genesis 41:7 "Pharaoh awoke, behold it was a dream. And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled,"  God said. Concerning Sihon, king of Heshbon, the Lord God hardened his spirit.

1 Corinthians 36:22 "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus",  a heathen multi god-worshiping king, king of Persia.

Jeremiah 51:11"The Lord raised up the spirit of the kings of the Medes." Heathen people. Proverbs 16:18 "Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”  humble spirit, lowly.

Proverbs 16:32 "He that ruleth his spirit."  You're supposed to rule your spirit. You can't rule something that's dead.

Isaiah 66:2 "Even to him that is poor and contrite spirit."

Haggai 1:14 "The Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel..."  He wasn't a king, but he was a prominent personality there in Israel. “The spirit of Joshua... and the spirit of the remnant of the people.” So all the people right from the top on down had a spirit God stirred up.

Jesus said this. Matthew 26:41 "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."  So God owes our sin constitution not to our spirit or our soul, but to our flesh.

Romans 8:16 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God." So two spirits, God's spirit and our spirit together. If our spirit were a sinful spirit or a dead spirit, then how would God's spirit bear witness?

Do you have to Believe to be saved?

I'm changing the subject now. She says, "I honestly thought that my belief is what my salvation depended upon."  Fancy that. She thought that she was required to believe in order to be saved. That's what she thought. Actually the Calvinists teach that which is correct.

John 8:24 "I said therefore that you shall die in your sins if you believe not that I am he."

John 3:18 "He that believeth on him is not condemned."

By the way. You know this word believe is found 228 times in the New Testament, 228 times. Found 81 times in the book of John. It is the theme of the Bible. Jesus' entire ministry was about encouraging people to believe.

John 3:18 "He that believeth on him is not condemned. He that believeth not is condemned already because he...”  has a sinful nature. Is that what it says? No. “because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten son of God.”  The reason men are condemned is because they do not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Does God cause us to Believe?

John 8:24 "I said therefore unto you, you shall die in your sins if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins."  Jesus held people responsible to believe. According to this woman, her belief is that no one can believe, and that's what she said, until they're first regenerated by the Holy Spirit. This is while they're still indifferent to God, still outside God's favor, still unrepentant and unbelieving. They're regenerated. That happens against their will. Without their will. They cannot will it. It happens not on their account, nothing they do. God chooses to do it to some, not to others. The one he chooses to do that regeneration to, that group then believes, according to her. So therefore, she's saying she's not responsible for believing.

I've known a lot of Calvinists that weren't saved. Their only hope of salvation was the conviction that they were one of the elect. They did not have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They did not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ individually and personally. They were trusting in a doctrine to get them to heaven. That's a very dangerous place to be.

If you can't go back and name the time, name the place or remember the experience, when you trust in the Lord Jesus Christ and you went from a lost sinner to a saved person with the spirit of God dwelling in you, you changed, your life changed and you started a relationship with God, then you hadn't been saved yet. That's called being born again. It's called the new birth and it requires you to repent and believe the gospel. Trusting in a doctrine is a dangerous thing. Just thinking that you're part of that group that believes this, therefore, you must be one of the elect.

What makes you think you're one of the elect just because you go to a church that teaches it? Maybe you're not one of the elect at all. All right? Excuse me for preaching.

John 20:31 "These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that believing, you might have life through his name."  So clearly Jesus encouraged people to believe. He was sad when they didn't believe. He performed miracles to try to get them to believe. He encouraged them every way he could and said, if you don't, you'll be damned. Please believe and I'll give you eternal life.

How in the world could you believe that you don't have to believe, that that's not your responsibility? You're waiting around for God to make it happen. If God could do it, if it's God's doing, then it's his responsibility to do it and I guarantee you he would do it to everybody that he can.

Now, you know what's interesting is if God can cause people to believe and he doesn't, then God's guilty. Not to me. Why would he not cause all to believe it he could?

Bible teaching with Michael Pearl.
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