The Logic of Regeneration and Faith

The Logic of Regeneration and Faith

When discussing the logical priority of regeneration and faith it is very helpful to keep in mind why we need to be regenerated in the first place. It is because of sin that we are fallen, creatures. It is because of sin that we are dead. The scriptures say that we are dead in our trespasses and sin. In justification, we are forgiven of our sin. Because sin was the cause of our spiritual death that must first be removed before we gain spiritual life. The logical of this argument is that regeneration cannot precede faith because justification must precede regeneration. We must first be forgiven before we gain the life we lost. Since most Calvinists agree that faith precedes justification. They must also agree that faith precedes regeneration since justification logically comes before regeneration.



“Justification, the exculpation of guilt or the demonstration of the correctness of an act or statement. ‘Justification’ and its related terms ‘just,’ ‘justly,’ ‘justify’ help to render the Hebrew ṣdq and the Greek dikaioō (altogether the two words occur in the Bible about seven hundred and fifty times). These concepts are more frequently expressed in English Bibles by the term ‘righteousness’ and its related forms. Translation by means of the English word ‘justification’ comes through the Vulgate’s justitia. The Latin verb justificare added the sense of ‘make just,’ though the Hebrew regularly meant ‘declare just.’ The two concepts relate, as at Rom. 3:26 where Christ’s death demonstrates that God ‘is righteous and that he justifies’ one who believes in Jesus.

OT uses reflect the human desire to justify oneself (Job 32:2; 33:32; Isa. 43:9) or show one is ‘in the right.’ When applied to God (Job 32:2; Ps. 51:4), they raise the question of theodicy or justifying the ways of God to human beings. The OT insists God ‘is just in all his ways’ (Ps. 145:17) and asks, ‘How can a person be just before God?’ (Job 9:2). It knows the complaint that ‘the way of the Lord is not just’ (Ezek. 18:25, 29) but replies God will judge nonetheless (33:17, 20). The eventual answer is not that love or mercy triumphs over righteousness but that righteousness is seen as having a saving dimension (Isa. 51:1, 5, 6, 8, RSV: ‘deliverance’). God who saves is the one who justifies (Rom. 8:33; cf. Isa. 50:8, ‘vindicates’).

Early Jewish Christians confessed that Jesus was put to death ‘for our trespasses’ and raised ‘for our justification’ (Rom. 4:25) and that we are ‘justified…in Christ Jesus…by his blood’ (Rom. 3:24-25). They further confessed that when ‘the Son was made sin’ (perhaps a ‘sin offering,’ 2 Cor. 5:21) it demonstrated God’s righteousness while at the same time showing that sinners are justified by faith in Jesus (Rom. 3:26).

Paul deepened this idea of justification through faith ‘apart from works of the law’ (Rom. 3:28) and applied it to non-Jews (Gal. 3:8) as well as Jews (Rom. 3:30), on the basis of Abraham’s experience (Rom. 4). The universality of justification is shown by comparing Christ with Adam: Adam’s trespass brought condemnation for all, whereas Christ’s act of ‘righteousness’ brings justification or acquittal and life to all. Thus sinners are ‘made [declared, established as] righteous’ (Rom. 5:16-21). God ‘justifies the ungodly’ who trust him (Rom. 4:5); they receive peace and life in the Spirit (Rom. 5:1; 8:4). The ethical aspects of justification emphasize ‘whatever is just’ (Phil. 4:8).
James speaks of justification (2:24-25), not in opposition to Paul but against people who fail to understand that faith includes obedience (Rom. 1:5) to God beyond creedal assent.”

Achtemeier, P. J., Harper & Row and Society of Biblical Literature. (1985). In Harper’s Bible dictionary (1st ed., p. 520). San Francisco: Harper & Row.

“English Bibles render Heb. ṣdq and Gk. dikaioún as both “just, justice, justify” and “right, righteous (ness), rightwise.” Righteousness/justification language occurs more than 800 times in the OT and NT.

Both the Hebrew and Greek can denote self-justification, seeking to put oneself “in the right.” Job “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2; cf. 33:32; 9:2). The setting of such attempts may be a lawsuit, involving God and the nations (Isa. 43:9) or Israel (43:26); then it will be shown that God is righteous (45:21, 24). The lawyer in Luke 10:29 wanted “to justify himself” by asking Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” Money-loving Pharisees are said to try to justify themselves in the sight of other people (Luke 16:15).

A further application is the justification of God. In the Lord’s speech to Job from the whirlwind the issue is theodicy or defense of God’s ways to mortals (Job 40:8; cf. Gen. 18:25; Ps. 37:5–6, 28–34; Jer. 12:1; Ezek. 18, esp. vv. 25–29). In the NT wisdom is justified by her deeds (Matt. 11:19) or children (Luke 7:35; Rev. 15:3–4; 16:5–7; 19:2). Paul frequently defends God’s judgments (2 Thess. 1:5; cf. Rom. 2:5–11; 9:19–24) and ways of salvation (Rom. 3:4–6). Indeed, Romans contains a vindication of how, given God’s plan with Israel, salvation has come to the Gentiles (3:28–30; 9:24, 30; 15:8–12) and a rebuke against Gentile Christian presumptuousness which counts Israel out (11:11–24).

Paul’s justification of God is inseparably related to his major theme, especially in Romans, of the justification of the ungodly, to whom faith is reckoned as righteousness (Rom. 4:5).
Specific references to justification reflect pre-Pauline confessional slogans about Jesus’ death and resurrection resulting in “our justification” (Rom. 4:25), brought home to believers as sanctification-justification via baptism, into Christ, with the Spirit (1 Cor. 6:11). Paul’s was an apostolic “ministry of justification” (2 Cor. 3:9), for Jew and Gentile both, i.e., all the world (Rom. 1:16; 2:9–10; 9:24; 10:12; 1 Cor. 12:13). From his own experience and study of Scripture (esp. Gen. 15:6; Ps. 143:2; Hab. 2:4), the principle emerged that “no one is justified before God by the law” but rather by faith (Gal. 3:6–14; cf. Rom. 3:20, 28) and that God’s blessing, spoken to Abraham, comes to Gentiles without their being circumcised or performing other “works of the law” (Rom. 4) that were part of Israel’s identity markers for remaining in the Sinai covenant. Paul’s opposition to such “covenantal nomism” or focus on the Law brought him into conflict with Cephas and “people from James” in Antioch and then into a struggle with such views in Galatia (Gal. 2:15–21; cf. 5:4–5).

In Romans Paul unfolded the gospel for a community he had not founded, precisely in terms of this biblical master theme, the righteousness (dikaiosýnē) of God (Rom. 1:16–17). Only after presenting Gentiles and Jews alike under God’s judgment (Rom. 1:18–3:20) and a reference to “the justice of God” (3:5, God as Judge), does Paul in 3:22, 24–26 set forth our being justified by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. The sacrificial death of Christ explains how God remains just while expiating sins. Justification is not merely an initial step toward salvation, in the believer’s past, but also involves future vindication and living out the experience in the present (Rom. 5:1; cf. 2:13; 3:20, 24). Justification is the foundation for carrying out God’s will in daily life by service to others, in church and world (Rom. 12:1–2), including “whatever is just” (Phil. 4:8).

For Paul, justification is the prime effect of the Christ event, a metaphor of salvation along with “participation ‘in Christ’ ” and the gift of the Spirit. This theme must be considered along with the related word fields of “grace” and “faith” as well as, in English, “righteousness.” Jas. 2:14–26 suggests how prominent justification was in the NT period and how Paul’s view could be misunderstood, even by his followers. James follows contemporary Jewish exegesis of Gen. 15:6 by combining it with Gen. 22 (the sacrifice of Isaac), an effort by a later (Jewish) Christian to correct a view of justification that lacks the obedience of faith (Rom. 1:5) expressed in help for others (as Paul insisted in Gal. 5:6; Rom. 13:8–10).

OT and NT understandings of justification stand often in close connection with “judgment.” Indeed, “righteousness” (ṣĕḏāqâ) and “justice” (mišpāṭ) can be used in synonymous parallelism (Amos 5:24; Isa. 11:4). The connection between justification and justice has been made in liberation theology.”

Reumann, J. (2000). Justification. In D. N. Freedman, A. C. Myers, & A. B. Beck (Eds.), Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible (pp. 757–758). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans.

Justification Before God
1. Promised in Christ. Isa 45:25; 53:11.
2. Is the act of God. Isa 50:8; Ro 8:33.
3. Under law
a. Requires perfect obedience. Le 18:5; Ro 10:5; 2:13; Jas 2:10.
b. Man cannot attain to. Job 9:2, 3, 20; 25:4; Ps 130:3; 143:2; Ro 3:20; 9:31, 32.
4. Under the gospel
a. Is not of works. Ac 13:39; Ro 8:3; Ga 2:16; 3:11.
b. Is not of faith and works united. Ac 15:1–29; Ro 3:28; 11:6; Ga 2:14–21; 5:4.
c. Is by faith alone. Joh 5:24; Ac 13:39; Ro 3:30; 5:1; Ga 2:16.
d. Is of grace. Ro 3:24; 4:16; 5:17–21.
e. In the name of Christ. 1 Co 6:11.
f. By imputation of Christ’s righteousness. Isa 61:10; Jer 23:6; Ro 3:22; 5:18; 1 Co 1:30; 2 Co 5:21.
g. By the blood of Christ. Ro 5:9.
h. By the resurrection of Christ. Ro 4:25; 1 Co 15:17.
i. Blessedness of. Ps 32:1, 2; Ro 4:6–8.
j. Frees from condemnation. Isa 50:8, 9; 54:17; Ro 8:33, 34.
k. Entitles to an inheritance. Tit 3:7.
l. Ensures glorification. Ro 8:30.
5. The wicked shall not attain to. Ex 23:7.
6. By faith
a. Revealed under the Old Testament age. Hab 2:4; Ro 1:17.
b. Excludes boasting. Ro 3:27; 4:2; 1 Co 1:29, 31.
c. Does not make void the law. Ro 3:30, 31; 1 Co 9:21.
7. Typified. Zec 3:4, 5.
8. Illustrated. Lu 18:14.
9. Exemplified
a. Abraham. Ge 15:6.
b. Paul. Php 3:8, 9.”
Torrey, R. A. (2001). The new topical text book: A scriptural text book for the use of ministers, teachers, and all Christian workers. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Bible Software.