I want to start out tonight by asking a question. I’m just going to mention three simple words and I want you to put them in order for me. The words are:
Ask congregation to think about what each word means and the order they would place them in.
In my personal experience, most people place them in the order of grace, faith, and then regeneration. The reasoning is that God must first give us grace but then we choose whether to accept His gift before any regeneration can occur. This is a false doctrine that has infiltrated the Church.
But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.
And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace.
being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus;
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
Grace is completely God’s doing. It is His gift to us, as Christians. God is a gracious God.
But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.
He prayed to the LORD and said, "Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.
Ephesians 2:8 tells us that we are saved through faith by grace. Grace has to take place before any faith can.
And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
God showered His grace upon us before the foundation of the world. Before anything ever was, He had a plan. Part of that plan was to call the vessels of mercy to Himself. Even while we were still enemies of God, He showed His love for us and lavished us with grace
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight
The fact that grace comes first is not usually the part that confuses people. It is the proper order of faith and regeneration that gets sticky. As I have already stated, this is not the correct order at all.
God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there is anyone who understands,
Who seeks after God.
Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.
First of all, it is impossible for one to choose God. As I said in a sermon last deployment, before salvation, we serve the dominion of Satan.
to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God
We are at war with God and hate Him.
For everyone who does evil hates the Light
Nobody chooses the enemy. Even the most infamous traitors in American history were not serving the enemy. They may have been OUR enemy, but they were not THEIR enemy. Whether it was money, allegiance, or some other common bond, our enemy had become their ally. In the same way, nobody who chooses God is an enemy of God at the time. In order for one to choose God, a change must first occur. There must be a common bond. That common bond is the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
We see this verse speaking of the natural man. Another phrase used to identify this type of person is carnal man. The carnal man is a man of his own desires. He is a man at war with God. He is the unregenerate man bound by the chains of sin who still serves the dominion of Satan. Scripture tells us plainly that this man cannot understand the things of the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,
Here we see a new kind of person being introduced. This is the regenerate man. This man has been set free of the chains of sin. He has turned his eyes to the Light (Acts 26:18). He has been renewed by the Holy Spirit.
1 Corinthians 6:19
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?
The Holy Spirit does not reside in the carnal man. The Holy Spirit resides in the regenerate man. Our bodies are the very dwelling place of the Holy Spirit; of God. Having the Holy Spirit is synonymous with being saved. It is utterly impossible for a man to be saved without the Holy Spirit. It is equally as impossible for a man’s body to be the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit if he has not been regenerated. As a result, there is no way faith can come before regeneration.
First, the grace of God is poured out to us. This occurred before the foundation of the world. Next, in God’s timing, we are washed anew and regenerated by the Holy Spirit. At this time, we become a new creature in Christ. We now possess the ability to understand the things of the Spirit because the Spirit resides within us. Lastly, faith occurs. It is only after grace and regeneration that one can truly have faith in God. Of course, this means the “choice” we made was not really our own but rather an irresistible calling of God Almighty as He had already changed our very nature and desires. I am thankful for this because if it were up to me and my own works (a choice is technically a work as it is something we are doing), I would be left with nothing but filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6) and a lack of Christ.