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koreahog2005 said:

Wes, thanks for referring me to the Sproul article. He made a common mistake in his interpretation of John 3:3 when he interpreted the word “see” as “perceive”:

“Spiritually dead persons are incapable of seeing the kingdom of God. It is invisible to them, not because the kingdom itself is invisible, but because the spiritually dead are also spiritually blind.”

That is simply not correct.

Well, we agree on one thing. Someone is not correct. However as has been pointed out in this thread to you by others you are subscribing to a man-centered theology. Man does not understand spiritual things unless he is born again by the Spirit of God. Paul tells us: "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 CORINTHIANS 2:14)

J.I Packer has written: "The knowledge of divine things to which Christians are called is more than a formal acquaintance with biblical words and Christian ideas. It is a realizing of the reality and relevance of those activities of the triune God to which Scripture testifies. Such awareness is natural to none, familiar with Christian ideas though they may be (like “the man without the Spirit” in 1 Cor. 2:14 who cannot receive what Christians tell him, or the blind leaders of the blind of whom Jesus speaks so caustically in Matt. 15:14, or like Paul himself before Christ met him on the Damascus road). Only the Holy Spirit, searcher of the deep things of God (1 Cor. 2:10), can bring about this realization in our sin-darkened minds and hearts. That is why it is called “spiritual understanding” (spiritual means “Spirit-given,” Col. 1:9; cf. Luke 24:25; 1 John 5:20). Those who, along with sound verbal instruction, “have an anointing from the Holy One... know the truth” (1 John 2:20).

The work of the Spirit in imparting this knowledge is called “illumination,” or enlightening. It is not a giving of new revelation, but a work within us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text as heard and read, and as explained by teachers and writers. Sin in our mental and moral system clouds our minds and wills so that we miss and resist the force of Scripture. God seems to us remote to the point of unreality, and in the face of God’s truth we are dull and apathetic. The Spirit, however, opens and unveils our minds and attunes our hearts so that we understand (Eph. 1:17-18; 3:18-19; 2 Cor. 3:14-16; 4:6). As by inspiration he provided Scripture truth for us, so now by illumination he interprets it to us. Illumination is thus the applying of God’s revealed truth to our hearts, so that we grasp as reality for ourselves what the sacred text sets forth."

As many contributors to this thread have already advised you.... you've got the cart before the horse. As a matter of fact without the Spirit's work in regenerating the heart first there can be no faith. Regeneration is the spiritual change wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit in which his/her inherently sinful nature is changed so that he/she can respond to God in Faith, and live in accordance with His Will (Matt. 19:28; John 3:3,5,7; Titus 3:5). It is an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit (John 3:5-8). This change is ascribed to the Holy Spirit. It originates not with man but with God (John 1:12, 13; 1 John 2:29; 5:1, 4). It extends to the whole nature of man, altering his governing disposition, illuminating his mind, freeing his will, and renewing his nature.

The idea that regeneration comes before saving faith is not always understood by evangelicals today. Sometimes people will even say something like, "If you believe in Christ as your Savior, then (after you believe) you will be born again." But Scripture itself never says anything like that. The new birth is viewed by Scripture as something that God does within us in order to enable us to believe.... if we are to use language that closely conforms to the actual wording of Scripture, it would be better to restrict the word "regeneration" to the instantaneous, initial work of God in which he imparts spiritual life to us.

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koreahog goes on to write:

You said, “Dead men don't make choices. It will take a miracle, not a decision to be born again.” Actually, dead men do make choices. Notice what Jesus said in John 5:24-25:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.”


These verses do not create a problem. They don't disprove the above teaching rather they support it. The point is that hearing comes from the Spirit's work within us, bringing new life, changing our nature, and enabling us to believe. As John Newton wrote so eloquently "Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind, but now I see.


Wes


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