Posted On August 26, 2020

Christianity is Supernatural

by | Aug 26, 2020 | Theology

The following is an excerpt from my forthcoming book — A Change of Heart

Christianity is supernatural. Left to ourselves we do not fear God, seek God, truly understand God, or care about God’s glory at all. Without the Holy Spirit, we don’t even want to know the problem, much less possess the means or the desire to fix it ourselves. A leopard cannot change its spots, and a sinner cannot change his nature (cf. Jeremiah 13:23).

So, how does anyone get saved at all then? With man this is impossible! But God…

As R.C. Sproul wrote, “Regeneration is the first step in the total experience of redemption that God takes us through.”[1] God opens our hearts to understand the gospel. He breaks down the fortress of hostility we have erected to show us the wonders of His grace. God brings about a change of heart in us so that we come to Christ in faith and repentance.

As Benjamin Keach preached,

In what a condition are Christ’s sheep when he finds them? Jesus Christ finds all his lost sheep dead, spiritually dead, “dead in sins and trespasses;” Eph. 2:1, and being dead, they must needs be deaf. But as Lazarus, who was naturally dead, heard the voice of Christ, and came forth out of the grave, so those that are spiritually dead do hear the voice of Christ, his voice makes the dead to hear. “Verily, verily, I say unto, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live,” John 5:25. He doth not refer to the day of the resurrection, to such that are dead in the grave, for that hour was not then come; but he means such whom he quickens and raises to a spiritual or divine life by his Spirit, “For the Son quickens whom he will,” and he will call and quicken all his lost and dead sheep, first or last; they it seemed wondered at this saying, therefore in ver. 28, saith he, “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice—and shall come forth,” &c. This shows he spoke not of such a death before, but of a spiritual death, “This thy brother was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found,” Luke 15:32. The Prodigal son was dead, so long as he was in his lost and sinful state and condition.[2]

Or as John MacArthur summarizes,

In his state of spiritual death (Eph. 2:1-3), man is incapable of even understanding the things of the Spirit, let alone receive them (1 Cor. 2:14). The sinner’s mind is so hostile to God that he is literally unable to submit to God’s law (Rom. 8:7), and thus he cannot please God in any sense (Rom. 8:8), including the exercise of faith (Heb. 11:6). Man is blind to the value of God’s glory revealed in Christ and is hopelessly enamored with sin, despite its worthlessness. To suggest that a sinner in such a state could, apart from the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit, summon from within his own deadness the saving faith that God declares to be his sovereign gift (Eph. 2:8) is to wholly underestimate the miserable nature of man’s depravity…Regeneration is the cause, not the consequence of saving faith.[3]

Here are two reasons a biblical understanding of the “supernaturalness” of salvation matters:

First, it gives all glory to God for our salvation.

There are two big words to mention here. One is monergism and the other is synergism. Ergon is the Greek word for work. The prefix syn means with and the prefix mono means alone.

The word “Synergism” then means that the new birth is a result of the work between God and man. It says it the New Birth is God’s work with man. God does His part; man does his part and boom – regeneration.

Monergism, on the other hand, says that the new birth is God’s work alone. It is God’s work in man.

Titus 3:5 says, “[H]e saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” We did not save ourselves. We did not make ourselves savable. Rather, God saved us.

As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached, “[Y]ou do not become a Christian as the result of human activity, not even human endeavor at its best and highest…Becoming a Christian is all of God.”[4]

Secondly, it makes us dependent on God’s means rather than our own

Romans 10:17 says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” I think as parents one of the biggest things we want is for our children to come to Christ. And so what I’m advocating for here, is instead of getting your kids to say a canned prayer, keep sharing the gospel. Do we call out to God to be saved? Of course we do! Of course we pray. But to genuinely call out to God in saving faith is only in response to God’s effectual work.

And how does God work? Through gospel proclamation. So, keep pointing them to Christ. Keep telling them the truth of the work of Jesus. And depend on God to give life.

Certainly, it is good to pray with them. And pray for them. And don’t lose heart and don’t try to force something that you cannot effect. You can control praying for them. And you can control sharing the gospel with them and calling them to repent and believe it. You can control putting the scriptures before their little eyes; singing faithful songs; talking about the things of Christ and His gospel.

And for the rest, trust the Lord. Trust the Lord to work through His appointed means — prayer, gospel proclamation, scripture intake, and the local church. You see, some try to get kids or adults to pray something they don’t even understand. They don’t understand the gospel. They don’t understand repentance. They don’t understand a desire to follow Christ.

And we’ve come to think we can just magically create our regeneration with words. But this is not true. You must “be” born again. This isn’t what we do, it’s what God does. Christianity is supernatural.

But here is the glorious news, as John Bunyan preached, “To be saved by grace supposeth that God hath taken the salvation of our souls into his own hand; and to be sure it is safer in God’s hand than ours.”[5]

Oh, the new birth is safer in God’s hand than ours! We can trust our children’s souls, our neighbors’ souls, and the nations’ souls, to a sovereign and gracious God. We preach, we pray, we plead, we persist—and we trust God with the results for, “Salvation belongs to the Lord!” (Jonah 2:9). Truly many will reject the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ and continue in their hardness of heart. But it will not be this way for all. God will work in His sovereign grace through the gospel in bringing many sons and daughters to glory.

 


[1] R. C. Sproul, What Does It Mean to Be Born Again?, vol. 6, The Crucial Questions Series (Lake Mary, FL: Reformation Trust Publishing, 2010), 25.

[2] Benjamin Keach, An Exposition of the Parables and Express Similitudes of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (London: Aylott and Co., 1858), 342–343.

[3] John MacArthur and Richard Mayhue, ed. Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth (Wheaton: Crossway, 2017), 586.

[4] D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Born of God: Sermons from John, Chapter One (Carlisle, PA Banner of Truth Trust, 2011),  233.

[5] John Bunyan, Saved by Grace, vol. 1 (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2006), 354.

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1 Comment

  1. Gordon

    Regeneration is undoing the supernatural depravity God had us born with so that we might finally be judged and rewarded by our actions, rather than viciously damned for our unbelief.
    Regeneration means that our good deeds are no longer supernaturally counted as filthy rags. The convert’s behavior doesn’t change in the slightest. In fact the gospel is a livcense to lawlessness if you are so releaved from threats of hell that you forget that God will judge us according to our deeds in proportion to our deeds, instead of judging us according to his perfectness that he made unavailable to us before. The “supernatural” is an extranatural change in God’s policy to the regenerated individual. If Christianity were supernatural, the born-again would be imbued with real virtue, talk with angels and heal the sick.
    Christianity is extranatural, not supernatural.

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