There's an article here on the Highway which you might find helpful. It's called The New Genesis. It's written by R.C. Sproul and is a study of our Lord's conversation with Nicodemus in John 3. When Jesus says "you must be born again" He's not telling Nicodemus he must make a decision about who he's going to serve. He's telling him you need to be reborn spiritually. This supports the idea that regeneration comes before faith not after. If faith preceeds regeneration then we already have the ability and that would deny that we need to be reborn?

Because of original sin all mankind is dead in sin and trespasses. Dead men don't make choices. It will take a miracle, not a decision to be born again. The message Jesus is giving is that unless the Spirit gives life there will be no conviction, no regeneration, and no cleansing.

In another place R.C. wrote an article entitled Dead Men Walking. Here's an excerpt from the June 2002 issue of Tabletalk

Grace alone...

Most Christians agree that regeneration is necessary for salvation. The debate rages over the question of how this necessary condition is met. Historic Semi-Pelagianism teaches that in order to be regenerated one first must have faith. In this schema, it is clear that faith precedes regeneration and that regeneration rests upon a prior response to faith. Thus, God is seen as offering salvation to whosoever will cooperate with His grace.

In contrast to all forms of Semi-Pelagianism, Augustianian and Reformed theology teaches that the grace of regeneration is a monergistic work that is done by God alone because it is a work only God can do. It is a work accomplished on us and in us by which our very natures are changed. It is at once a divine act of re-creation and of liberation. By re-creation we are quickened to spiritual life, or raised from the state of spiritual death.

Regeneration is not a joint venture. We do not cooperate in it because we will not cooperate in spiritual matters while we are still dead in our sins. Our hearts are totally disinclined and indisposed to the things of God. We love darkness and will not have God in our thinking. The desires of our hearts are enslaved to sin. We will never choose Christ until or unless we are liberated from that slavery. In short, we are morally unable to exercise faith until and unless we are first regenerated.

This is why the axiom of Reformed theology is that regeneration precedes faith. Rebirth is a necessary pre-condition for faith. Faith is not possible for spiritually dead creatures. Therefore, we contend that apart from spiritual rebirth there can be no faith.

Of course, once the divine initiative of regeneration has been wrought by the sovereign monergistic work of God, the rest of the Christian life is synergistic. But the transformation of the person from death to life, darkness to light, bondage to liberation is done by God alone, effectually and irresistibly. This is the Biblical basis for the church's confession Soli Deo Gloria.

May Jesus Christ be praised! He alone shall receive all the glory! "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;" (Phil. 1:6)


When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. - Isaac Watts