Not So Random Thoughts 38

Matthew 7:13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. 15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 “You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 “So then, you will know them by their fruits. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, 3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.

Romans 9:15 For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy

The doctrine of free justification by faith only, which became the storm-centre of so much controversy during the Reformation period, is often regarded as the heart of the Reformer’s theology, but this is hardly accurate. The truth is that their thinking was really centered upon the contention of Paul, echoed with varying degrees of adequacy by Augustine, and Gottschalk, and Bradwardine, and Wycliffe, that the sinner’s entire salvation is by free and sovereign grace only. The doctrine of justification by faith was important to them because it safeguarded the principle of sovereign grace; but it actually expressed for them only one aspect of this principle, and that not its deepest aspect. The sovereignty of grace found expression in their thinking at a profounder level still, in the doctrine of monergistic regeneration—the doctrine, that is, that the faith which receives Christ for justification is itself the free gift of a sovereign God, bestowed by spiritual regeneration in the act of effectual calling. (Johnson and Packer’s introduction to Luther’s Bondage of the Will).

The difference between monergistic regeneration and regeneration occurring after man makes a free-will choice is enormous. In fact, it can be easily seen that monergistic regeneration is at the heart of justification by grace alone through faith alone. A free-will choice before regeneration is at complete odds with the depravity and inability of man. A free-will choice before regeneration is at odds with the God saving sinners by free-grace alone. This is why the biblical doctrine of justification depends upon the teaching and the truth of monergistic regeneration. The teaching of free-will is not just a minor difference with the teaching of sovereign grace, but in fact it is enormous. In reality it is at the heart of the Gospel of grace alone.

Jesus Christ did not give Himself for those who had the ability to choose Him, but He gave Himself for those who did not have any ability at all to love Him and choose Him. If Christ gave Himself for those who had the ability to choose Him, then He did not die for them out of the pure and sheer grace of God and He did not purchase them a new heart by grace alone to be applied by the Spirit by grace alone. When people start from such drastically different places, it is hard from them to get to the same place. In this case it is impossible for them to get to the same place from their different starting places.

The word “Monergistic” is made up of two words. The first word “mono” has the meaning of one or singular. The word “erg” or “ergistic” is the word for work or doer. When the two words are put together with one meaning, monergistic regeneration means one worker or one doing the work. Is the work of regeneration the work of one or the work of two? Is regeneration the work of God or the work of God with the help of man? At any point that the assistance of man begins the grace of God ends since it is grace alone. This is why the Reformers stood so strong for monergistic regeneration since it alone correlates and supports justification by grace alone through faith alone. This also sets out the glory of the work of Christ and His saving sinners and rescuing them from the kingdom (reign and rule of) of the evil one.

In light of this, we can see that false prophets will not take the abuse of men and stand up for monergistic regeneration. They will instead tell men that they can make the choice before regeneration and in effect (whether their creed says it or not or whether they say they believe it or not) move God to regenerate the people. This sets their teaching at odds with Christ who purchased the Spirit for His people that they would be regenerated and be given a heart that is a believing heart. Should we tell men that God regenerates people according to His pleasure or should we not? Isn’t this precisely what Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3? When monergistic regeneration is taught to the people they are being cast upon Christ totally. When free-will is taught that means men make a choice and then God regenerates them men are cast upon themselves and monergistic regeneration is cast aside. When monergistic regeneration is case aside, grace alone and Christ alone are also cast aside. It is that serious and we can see why Jesus told us to beware of false prophets.

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