Biblical Regeneration and Its Fruit

There are many articles of faith that are fundamental to all evangelical teaching. For example, there is agreement among all believers on the following truths:

(1) Christ’s death purchased eternal salvation;

(2) the saved are justified by grace through faith in Christ alone;

(3) sinners cannot earn divine favor;

(4) God requires no preparatory works or pre-salvation reformation;

(5) eternal life is a gift of God;

(6) believers are saved before their faith ever produces any righteous works; and

(7) Christians can and do sin, sometimes horribly.

There is a dangerous distortion of the gospel being taught in many evangelical churches today. It teaches that Christians may completely abandon Christ, the church, the Bible, and live in unrepentant sin for the rest of their lives and yet still be assured of eternal life with God.

This teaching is sometimes referred to as “easy-believism.”

What does Scripture teach that is embraced by those who affirm a biblical view of regeneration and conversion but rejected by proponents of “easy-believism”? The following are nine distinctives of a biblical understanding of salvation and the gospel.

First, Scripture teaches that the gospel calls sinners to faith joined in oneness with repentance (Acts 2:38; 17:30; 20:21; 2 Pet. 3:9). Repentance is a turning from sin (Acts 3:19; Luke 24:47) that consists not of a human work but of a divinely bestowed grace (Acts 11:18; 2 Tim. 2:25). It is a change of heart, but genuine repentance will also effect a change of behavior (Luke 3:8; Acts 26:18-20).

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that repentance is simply an intellectual change of thought and that no turning from sin is required for salvation. Many churches have adopted this view in contrast to what Scripture teaches. Grace is being viewed as a cover for unrepentant license and licentiousness.

Second, Scripture teaches that salvation is all God’s work. Those who believe are saved utterly apart from any effort on their own (Titus 3:5). Even faith is a gift of God, not a work of man (Eph. 2:1-5, 8). Because it comes from God and not man, real faith cannot be defective or short-lived but endures forever (Phil. 1:6; cf. Heb. 11).

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that faith might not last and that a true Christian can completely cease believing and yet still be assured of salvation and entry into heaven with or without faith.

Third, Scripture teaches that the object of faith is Christ Himself, not a creed or an experience or an altar call or a sinners’ prayer (John 3:16). Faith (belief) therefore involves personal commitment to Christ (2 Cor. 5:15). In other words, all true believers follow Jesus (John 10:27-28).

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that saving faith is simply being convinced or giving credence to the truth of the gospel and doesn’t include a personal commitment to the person of Christ in terms of daily life and practice.

Fourth, Scripture teaches that real faith always produces a changed life (2 Cor. 5:17). Salvation includes a transformation of the inner person (Gal. 2:20). The nature of the Christian is new and different (Rom. 6:6). The unbroken pattern of sin and enmity with God will not continue when a person is born again (1 John 3:9-10).

Those with genuine faith follow Christ (John 10:27), love their brothers (1 John 3:14), obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3; John 15:14), do the will of God (Matt. 12:50), abide in God’s Word (John 8:31), keep God’s Word (John 17:6), do good works (Eph. 2:10), and continue in the faith (Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:14). These are not without failures and shortcomings, yet true believers continue to pursue righteousness throughout this life.

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that although some spiritual fruit may come, that fruit might not be visible to others and Christians can even lapse into a state of permanent spiritual barrenness (again with assurance of salvation and eternal union with God in heaven).

Fifth, Scripture teaches that God’s gift of eternal life includes all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3; Rom. 8:32), not just a ticket to heaven when we die.

In contrast, according to easy-believism, only the judicial aspects of salvation (e.g., justification, adoption, and positional sanctification) are guaranteed for believers in this life; practical sanctification and growth in grace require a post-conversion act of dedication. Yet the Bible never teaches that sanctification involves a secondary post-conversion act of dedication.

The same faith that justifies a sinner before God is the same faith that also sanctifies. Without sanctifying faith there has been no justifying faith. True faith does both. They are two sides of the same coin. Where there is one, the other is also present.

Sixth, Scripture teaches that Jesus is Lord of all, and the faith He provides enables unconditional surrender of the will to Him (Rom. 6:17-18; 10:9-10). In other words, Christ has not bestowed eternal life on those whose hearts remain set against Him (James 4:6). More people don’t enter heaven simply because we change the terms of salvation. People don’t come to faith as a result of our redefining the gospel.

Surrender to Jesus’ lordship is not an addition to salvation; the command to submit is at the heart of the gospel invitation throughout Scripture. In contrast, easy-believism teaches that submission to Christ’s supreme authority is not relevant to the saving transaction and they give assurance to those who are unrepentant about their sin.

Seventh, Scripture teaches that those who truly believe will love Christ (1 Pet. 1:8-9; Rom. 8:28-30; 1 Cor. 16:22). They will therefore long to obey Him (John 14:15, 23). In contrast, easy-believism teaches that Christians may fall into a state of lifelong carnality without repentance.

Eighth, Scripture teaches that behavior is an important test of faith. Obedience is evidence that one’s faith is real (1 John 2:3). On the other hand, the person who remains utterly unwilling to obey Christ does not evidence true faith (1 John 2:4).

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that disobedience and prolonged sin are no reason to doubt the reality of one’s faith.

Ninth, Scripture teaches that genuine believers may stumble and fall, but they will persevere in the faith (1 Cor. 1:8). Those who later turn completely away from the Lord show that they were never truly born again (1 John 2:19).

In contrast, easy-believism teaches that a true believer may utterly forsake Christ and come to the point of not believing without repentance. They teach that if a person ever professed faith in Christ they are eternally saved even though they have become apostates to the faith once delivered to the saints.

No major orthodox movement in the history of Christianity has ever taught that sinners can spurn the lordship of Christ yet lay claim to Him as Savior.

Yet this is being taught in many evangelical churches in America today. The result is a corruption of the gospel which leads lost people to think they’re saved even when no change has taken place in their heart. It leads people to think that God accepts them on their own terms and lets them rule their lives without regard to Him.

This is a critical issue in the church. I have spent hours in conversation and in written correspondance with people who believe this way. I am astonished that this is actually being taught!

This issue is not a trivial one. In fact, how could any issue be more important? The gospel that is presented to unbelievers has eternal ramifications.

If it is the true gospel, it can direct men and women into the everlasting kingdom. If it is a corrupted message, it can give unsaved people false hope and leave them unaware of their impending damnation apart from genuine faith in Christ.

This is an issue that every Christian must understand in order that the gospel may be rightly proclaimed to all the nations.

With love in the Truth,
Pastor Kevin


God is the Seeker

“And he made from one man every nation of mankind
to live on all the face of the earth, having determined
allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,
that they should seek God, in the hope that they might
feel their way toward him and find him.”
[Acts 17:26-27, ESV]

As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands; no one seeks for God.
[Romans 3:10-11, ESV]

Who is the seeker in the relationship between God and man? Acts 17 seems to suggest that all men are capable of seeking God, but Romans 3:11 clearly states that no one seeks God.

Whenever we see a lack of harmony between two passages of Scripture we always interpret the less understandable passage in light of the more understandable passages. Or, to say it another way, we interpret the implicit in light of the explicit.

In this instance, Romans 3:11 where Paul is quoting Psalm 14 is very clear: “No one seeks God…” This refers to all humanity apart from faith in Christ.

In the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, whenever God calls people to “seek Him with all their heart,” it is always given to people who have already received His revelation and have a knowledge of the God who calls them to seek Him.

In other words, Israel already knew enough about God to know what it meant to return to Him and “seek” Him. In James 4:8, God exhorts drifting Christians to “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.”

In contrast, God never tells pagan nations (who have never received His word or a knowledge of who He is) to seek Him; God presents Himself in both the OT and the NT as the ultimate “Seeker” who seeks and saves the lost (John 4:23). He does this according to His own good pleasure.

In Acts 17:26-27 Luke is saying that men have no excuse for not knowing about God because He has revealed Himself in man’s conscience and in the physical world. Apart from the gift of faith all men seek is a god of their own making.

This is why so many lost people are in false religions and cults. Their seeking is not for the one true God, but for a false idea of a god based on their own opinions of what “god” should be.

God’s providential activity as creator, ruler, giver, and controller should move men to seek Him in a natural sense. Reason itself should send them from the greatest effect (the universe) back to the first cause—God.

But so often, they are blind to nature’s witness because they are blind to God. In all that He has done in creating and sustaining the universe, God has revealed Himself to mankind.

Such self-disclosure should encourage men to search for Him and find Him. The natural revelation of God in the human conscience (Rom. 2:14–15) and the physical world leaves all men without excuse (Rom. 1:18ff.), since He is not far from each one of us.

Even those who never heard the gospel are still accountable to God for failing to live up to natural revelation. Had they done so, God would have brought them the special revelation (Scripture) they needed to be saved.

This has been historically documented by countless Christian missionaries who have been sent to lost people groups who were simply responding to the natural revelation they had with obedience.

God brings them the gospel through obedient Christians who preach the Word and spread the gospel around the world. All Christians must obediently spread God’s Word that the lost may be brought to faith in Christ.

With joy in the Seeker,
Pastor Kevin



Where Are Sins Purged?

Recently, I was asked to explain why I didn’t accept the Roman Catholic teaching on Purgatory. I wanted to share my response with our blog readers. Understanding the problem with a place like Purgatory has everything to do with the meaning of the gospel.

The idea of purgatory is offensive to anyone who understands the gospel of salvation through faith in Christ. In short, I don’t believe there is a place called purgatory for the following reasons:

(1) it is no where taught in Scripture;

(2) it is based on the tradition of the Roman Catholic Church centuries after the apostolic age (even though Catholic history claims the idea of purgatory existed before the apostolic age, this cannot be supported);

(3) when a person dies, according to Scripture, they either go to heaven or to hell; there is no intermediate state (in the OT, “Abraham’s Bosom” was a Jewish idiom for paradise where God is – i.e. heaven);

(4) most importantly there is only one place ever given in Scripture where sins can be purged from believing sinners — that is on the cross of Jesus Christ in His person and through His finished work on our behalf.

To “purge” means to clear of guilt; to free from moral or ceremonial defilement. According to Scripture, this can never be done by man on his own behalf; only God can clear of guilt brought by sin. The Old Testament sacrifices were a shadow of the purging and sacrificial work of Christ on Calvary.

On the cross, all of the sins of every person who would ever believe were purged from us and credited to Jesus; in turn, all of Christ’s perfection, holiness, and righteousness was credited (or imputed) to His people through faith in Him. From the cross Jesus declared, “It is finished!”

Whenever the Bible speaks of believers’ justification, it always speaks of a past-tense event that occurs at the moment of faith: “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

“Having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (v. 9).”There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Our justification is an accomplished fact, not an unfinished project to be completed by us in purgatory.

No person can suffer to pay for their own sins either in this life or in the life to come. Purgatory is an invention of men and must be rejected for the reasons stated above.

With love in the truth,
Pastor Grant


Unflinching on the Truth

This past week I was going through the boxes in our garage. We recently moved and unloaded half a garage worth of boxes from the other house. So the sorting process continues.

As I looked into several of the boxes to identify the contents, I came across a box of my grandfather’s sermon manuscripts. The one on top was from Mark 3. The typing had faded, but the red ink of my grandfather’s pen was still clear and legible.

What I read in those notes was a declaration of truth. My grandfather was explaining the purpose of Mark’s gospel and was distinguishing it from mere history and mere biography. For me, this was a delightful discovery.

It encourages me that I had a grandfather who studied the Scriptures and sought to convey those truths to others over the course of his long ministry. Now, I’m following in that same line.

I want to be faithful to God’s Word. I’m increasingly aware that the truths and doctrines of Scripture are often under assault even in many parts of the visible church.

When a man is faithful to declare God’s truth on controversial matters he is sometimes thought to be insensitive or contentious. Yet if a man lovingly speaks truth to those in error, he is doing the kindest service to those people.

Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.”

It’s better to speak the truth that hurts and then heals, than falsehood that comforts but then kills. It is better to be hated for telling the truth than to be loved for telling a lie.

It is better to be called cruel for being kind, than to be called kind for being cruel. It is better to be divided by truth than united by error.

Martin Luther boldly declared:

“If I, with the loudest voice, and clearest exposition, declare every portion of the word of God, except that little point which the world and devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

I’m grateful to follow in my grandfather’s path where hard truths must be proclaimed and lived out in a world of increasing hostility and animosity toward the gospel.

May all of us remember our high calling in Christ and strive to be faithful to Him and unflinching on the truth in all things. 

Your co-laborer in Christ,
Pastor Kevin