HI again, ZS,
Sorry to be so long in replying; I've been away on holiday for a few days <img src="/forum/images/graemlins/bananas.gif" alt="" />

I think what we need here is an Ordo Salutis, an Order of Salvation. As I've said before, regeneration is not an instantaneous event. If we think of it as the New Birth, then our first birth took nine months from conception to delivery, and I suggest that the second birth can also take a length of time. This was the view of most of the Puritans. William Perkins, in his book, A Golden Chaine, suggested that there was an elongated process both before and after regeneration. He proposed ten stages, which Peter Masters summarizes thus:-

Stage 1. The ministry of the word comes to an unbeliever along with some trial or crisis, which subdues the sinner's stubborn nature, making it pliable to the will of God.
Stage 2. God brings the mind of the sinner to think about His holy laws.
Stage 3. God makes the sinner see and feel his own sins and how he offends God.
Stage 4. God smites the sinnser's heart with fear of punishment and hell, and makes him despair of attaining salvation by his own efforts.
Stage 5. The mind is stirred up to serious consideration of the promises of the Gospel.
Stage 6. God kindles a spark of faith, or a will or desire to believe, and gives grace to strive against doubt and despair.
Stage 7. A combat takes place in which that measure of faith fights with doubt despair and distrust. In this battle, the sinner fervently and constantly calls upon God for pardon, and this desire prevails.
Stage 8. God mercifully quietens and settles the conscience, to feel more sure of salvation, and the soul rests on the promise of life.
Stage 9. The sinner truly repents with sorrow at having offended such a merciful and loving God, and yields his life, his love and his behaviour to his Saviour.
Stage 10. He manifests a new obedience, in which he conscientiously obeys the commands of God, and walks in newness of life.

Perkins held that the first 5 stages could occur in the lives of people who do not come to salvation (eg. Felix 'trembled' and Agrippa was 'almost persuaded'). But Perkins taught that in the case of the Elect, the Holy Spirit worked in such a way that the first 5 stages humbled them in preparation for full regeneration.

Under this view, Justification is the final stage of regeneration. This explains those texts that you have quoted which say that one has life by believing. But regeneration started long before when God first opened the sinners heart to think on ternal matters. Perhaps the Ordo Salutis looks something like this:-

Particular call (Start of Regeneration)
Conviction of sin
Repentance and faith in Christ
Justification (Completion of regeneration)

I think that if you consider this, it allows for your position whilst cofessing that 'salvation is of the Lord' from first to last.

Every blessing,

Itinerant Preacher & Bible Teacher in Merrie England.
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