In any discussion between the Calvinists and the Arminians, the former would inevitably slam the latter concerning their illogical position. The Calvinists will kindly remind their Arminian cousins condescendingly that regeneration or the new birth must precede faith, i.e. that the gift of life must precede the ability to believe. And of course, that is perfectly correct. Nothing could be more basic and logical and obvious than that - life must precede the activities of that life.
However, the Calvinists, in the pride of their prowess of logic, they fail to see that some of their own ideas are NO LESS inconsistent and illogical. Given the fact that the Calvinists claim themselves to be logical, and their haughty inclination to mock and ridicule the Arminians as being illogical, they are more culpable and blameworthy for their illogical ideas.
In conversing with a confident Calvinist, I [who is neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian] wrote thus: "Faith EVIDENCES the justification that has ALREADY taken place by God's free and sovereign grace. That is the truth the Bible teaches, and the Old School Baptist (like the framers of the 1689 CoF) did believe. New School Baptists are confused about the issue, failed to rightly divide the word of truth, and have rejected the truth of justification by God's free grace, WITHOUT faith."
He replied: "It's one thing to make such emphatic statements, but it is quite another thing to support them. Neither you nor the article you reference demonstrate the truthfulness of these statements from Scripture. The article that you quote from seems to be afraid that if faith is an instrumental cause of justification then it will give man some credit and rob God of His glory, but that is not necessary if faith itself is a gift and regeneration logically precedes faith. Further, the article seems contradictory. It says that faith is not an instrumental cause, but then goes on to describe faith as an instrument of receiving this righteousness."
In his statement he rightly states that "regeneration logically precedes faith." That's a perfectly logical, and a truthful statement. (As an aside, his statement that 'faith is a gift' is simply illogical - because a gift is something that comes to us from WITHOUT. The act of believing and resting in Christ is by the grace of faith worked by the Spirit of Christ from WITHIN a child of God. I assume this is a given, and that there is no dispute about this basic point.)
Now, let us turn to his confident point of logic. I reply thus:
You are perfectly right - regeneration logically precedes faith. Amen. I am always thankful when men insist on logic, because God's word truly is a logical, consistent harmonious whole. A renewed mind ought to be a sound mind, to rightly divide the word of truth. I believe your logic would insist that your justification before God follows faith, your act of believing. Let us examine the soundness of this logic.
Ask yourself these questions to check the soundness of your logic:
Is it logical that the bestowal of life (regeneration by the Spirit) PRECEDES the removal of the condemnation of death (justification by God)?
Is it logical that justification by God's free grace (I didn't say justification by believer's faith) FOLLOWS regeneration (since faith follows regeneration)?
Is it logical, or even possible, that a man UN-justified by God could ever be regenerated by the Holy Spirit?
You would agree that by nature a man is under the condemnation of death. And only the justification by God's free grace is that condemnation of death removed, and righteousness of life imputed? (Read a short article on Romans 5:18 "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; EVEN SO by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" here: http://things-new-and-old.blogspot.com/2009/09/therefore-as-arminians-reject-doctrine.html)
Equally logical, one cannot possibly be regenerated when he is still unjustified, i.e. while still under the condemnation of sin and death. The removal of condemnation of death is PREREQUISITE to being quickened to life, i.e. regeneration. That is pure and sound logic!
Equally logical, one who is regenerated is ALREADY justified by God's free grace, i.e. the condemnation of death has been removed, and righteousness unto life is already applied personally, and eternal life bestowed. To claim that life is bestowed BEFORE the removal of the condemnation of death is just perverse and twisted logic!
It is crooked logic to say that an unjustified person, i.e. still under the condemnation of death and sin, is regenerated, and is able to believe in order that he may be justified by God. That is very irrational... no less irrational as those who teach that one must believe in order to have eternal life. Activity of life cannot precedes the life itself!
It is twisted logic to say that a regenerated person is still under the condemnation of sin and death, and that his act of believing is the instrumental means to remove that condemnation!
Equally illogical is the teaching that the Holy Spirit regenerated a sinner still under the condemnation of death whom the Father has not justified, has not removed the condemnation of death and imputed the righteousness of life.
All this sick, perverse and twisted logic would be set right of only these 'logicians' humble themselves, and recognize their failure to rightly divide the word of truth.
God justifies the ungodly. Faith justifies the believing.
God justifies the ungodly - those under the condemnation of death - by His free and sovereign grace, wherein He pardons all their sins, and accept them as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness imputed to them. God justifies the ungodly REDEMPTIVELY - freely and sovereignly saving them from their just condemnation, and bestowing to them eternal salvation in Jesus Christ.
SURELY, God's acts of justifying the UNGODLY, must precede any possibility of faith, the act of believing by the justified ones.
Faith justifies the believing - God's children who are indwelt by the Spirit of God, who works in them the many graces, faith being one of them - faith certifies, demonstrates and evidences that the believing ones are indeed the children of God. Faith justifies the believing EVIDENTIALLY.
Many cannot see the obvious distinction, and end up with the nonsensical idea that faith precedes justification by God. They are blind to the simple and obvious truth that it is only an elect who is already justified by God's free grace, regenerated and adopted, and bestowed with the Spirit of adoption, that is able to believe to demonstrate his justified state by grace.
Is it not logical, as well as biblical, that one who is born again has been justified by God? How could a person be regenerated if he is still under condemnation, i.e unjustified by God? That would portray the Holy Spirit as acting immorally, regenerating someone who is still under the condemnation of death!
ALSO, the Scriptures declares, "God justifies the UNGODLY," but many illogically read that as God justifies the BELIEVING. The ungodly whom God justifies is necessarily in an unjustified state, in the state of sin and death. A believing one must necessarily be a regenerated person... and a regenerated person CAN'T possibly be at the same time still under the state of sin and death, needing to be justified by God in the same sense.
Sometimes I am amazed how the Calvinists who ridicule the irrationalism of the Arminians fail to see their own irrationalism!
Notwithstanding all the great differences there are between Calvinists and the Arminians, they are united in one most crucial doctrine: justification by faith. Both insist that justification before God is by faith, their act of believing.