Hi again, Wes. You said, “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)”

I agree that a man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. Five-point Calvinists believe that a non-Christian’s depravity must be counteracted by regeneration before he can accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. I believe that a non-Christian’s depravity must be counteracted by the special, illuminating conviction of the Holy Spirit before he can accept the things that come from the Spirit of God. I noticed in the quote by Packer that he used the word “illumination.”

You defined regeneration as “an inner re-creating of fallen human nature by the gracious sovereign action of the Holy Spirit.”

I believe that when a person is regenerated, the Holy Spirit indwells him and begins changing him. To regenerate means to rebuild. We are given new life, eternal life. This is salvation. The Bible tells us that in logical order, salvation follows faith and repentance:

“If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” And when they heard this, they quieted down, and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.” (Acts 11:17-18)

For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation; but the sorrow of the world produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)

And he called for lights and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” (Acts 16:29-31)

And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:50)

“I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:40)

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Five-point Calvinists have regeneration preceding faith/repentance in logical order, if not temporal order (as I demonstrated when I quoted James P. Boyce). Thus, according to five-point Calvinists, at least in logical order, a person is not yet saved when they are first regenerated. In other words, the person does not yet have eternal life. Salvation, according to the verses I gave above, comes after repentance/faith in logical order. Eternal life is only received when faith/repentance occurs. That is also when the Holy Spirit permanently indwells the person.

I think the most powerful verse for showing that regeneration follows faith in logical order is John 1:12. Let’s look at the Greek:

“hosoi de elabon auton, edoken autois exousian tekna theou genesthai, tois pisteuousin eis to onoma autou.”

Let’s look at each of the words:

Hosoi – as many as
De – but
Elabon – received
Auton – him (accusative, singular pronoun)
Edoken – gave
Autois – to them (dative, plural pronoun – indirect object)
Exousian – ability, right, power, privilege
Tekna – children
Theou – of God
Genesthai – to become
Tois – to them
Pisteuousin – believing
Eis – into
To – the
Onoma – name
Autou – His

As I mentioned earlier, John used the word “tekna” (children) rather than the word “huios” (sons). The word for adoption is “huiothesia.” Notice the connection between “huios” and “huiothesia”? Regeneration, not adoption, is being referred to in John 1:12.

A.T. Robertson, a Greek authority and former professor at The Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, commented on the verse:

“As many as received him (osoi elabon auton). Effective aorist active indicative of lambanw ‘as many as did receive him,’ in contrast with oi idioi just before, exceptional action on the part of the disciples and other believers. To them (autoiß). Dative case explanatory of the relative clause preceding, an anacoluthon common in John 27 times as against 21 in the Synoptists. This is a common Aramaic idiom and is urged by Burney (Aramaic Origin, etc., p. 64) for his theory of an Aramaic original of the Fourth Gospel. The right (exousian). In Luke 5:27 edwken (first aorist active indicative of didwmi) exousian means authority but includes power (dunamiß). Here it is more the notion of privilege or right. To become (genesqai). Second aorist middle of ginomai, to become what they were not before. Children of God (tekna qeou). In the full spiritual sense, not as mere offspring of God true of all men (Acts 17:28 ). Paul's phrase uioi qeou (Galatians 3:26) for believers, used also by Jesus of the pure in heart (Matthew 5:9), does not occur in John's Gospel (but in Revelation 21:7). It is possible that John prefers ta tekna tou qeou for the spiritual children of God whether Jew or Gentile (John 11:52) because of the community of nature (teknon from root tek-, to beget). But one cannot follow Westcott in insisting on ‘adoption’ as Paul's reason for the use of uioi since Jesus uses uioi qeou in Matthew 5:9. Clearly the idea of regeneration is involved here as in John 3:3. Even to them that believe (toiß pisteuousin). No ‘even’ in the Greek, merely explanatory apposition with autoiß, dative case of the articular present active participle of pisteuw. On his name (eiß to onoma). Bernard notes pisteuw eiß 35 times in John, to put trust in or on. See also John 2:23; 3:38 for pisteuw eiß to onoma autou. This common use of onoma for the person is an Aramaism, but it occurs also in the vernacular papyri and eiß to onoma is particularly common in the payment of debts (Moulton and Milligan's Vocabulary). See Acts 1:15 for onomata for persons.”

In John 1:11 some people did not receive Him. In John 1:12 other people did receive Him. Using Robertson’s explanation, “to as many as did receive Him” – to those people he gave the right to become children of God. In literal Greek it would be as follows: “As many as but did receive Him gave to them the right children of God to become.” The rest of the verse in literal Greek would be as follows: “To them believing into the name of Him.” “Received” (elabon), “gave” (edoken), and “become” (genesthai) are all aorist tense and indicative mood, indicating punctiliar action (action at a point in time) in past time. Two are active voice, and one is middle voice. (The imperfect tense has continuing action in past time.) One of my seminary textbooks (written by professors Vaughn and Gideon) says of the aorist tense: “In the indicative it expresses punctiliar action in past time.” (A Greek Grammar of the New Testament, page 144) “Believing” is a present participle, and this is significant for our discussion. My first Greek textbook was “An Introduction to New Testament Greek” by Huber Drumwright, a professor at Southwestern Baptist Seminary. Here’s what Drumwright said about present participles: “A present participle must be given time that is the same (contemporaneous) as the time of the leading verb with which it is associated” (page 106). Remember that Robertson said that the phrase with “believing” was in apposition with “them” (autois) who became children of God. So, at the same point in time that the people became children of God, they were believing. The people who believed were regenerated. The people who received Christ were given the right to become children of God at the point in time when they were believing in Him. In my belief system the logical order is first repentance/faith and then regeneration. But in chronological order they would be simultaneous.