Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 3)

This is the continuation of my last post. We are still addressing the Calvinist argument that Ephesians 2:5-6 teaches monergistic regeneration because the text does not show any action on the part of man. In the last post we brought our first witness against this argument, namely the immediate context. In verse 5 it includes the phrase “by grace you have been saved.” We noted that Paul expands on this phrase in verses 8. In those verses he teaches that we are saved (i.e. justified) through faith. The grace of God saves us, and we receive that grace through believing. The fact that the same phrase is used in verse 5 and verse 8 shows us that the same topic is being taught in both verses.

But we have another witnesses against the monergistic reading of Ephesians 2:5-6. So without further ado, let’s put our second witness on the stand.

Witness #2 – Colossians 2:11-13

The context of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is very similar to his letter to the Ephesians. There are some slight differences, but the topics he covers are basically the same. What is pertinent for us is the parallel passage to Ephesians 2:5-6 found in Colossians 2:11-13. 

Colossians 2:11-13

11 In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 

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Are You Sure You Wanna Use That Verse? (Ephesians 2:5-6 – Part 2)

It Teaches Justification, not sanctification

In the first post of this series we went through Ephesians 2:1-10 to show in context why Ephesians 2:5-6 are not valid verses to use as a proof-text for monergistic regeneration. We noted that when Calvinists quote this passage with that in mind they are in error. The passage does not teach that God by grace does an internal work of transformation in the heart of the sinner. 

The passage is not teaching that the sinner is actually taken out of their sin and raised up to the right hand of God with Christ Jesus. Instead the passage is talking about a positional change, from being condemned in sin, to being accepted and blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus. It is teaching us about the new status we have in Christ Jesus as adopted children. So, though it is talking about regeneration (rebirth), it is addressing the positional aspect of the new birth, not the transformative aspect. To use theological terminology, it is speaking about justification, not sanctification. 

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Are You Sure You Wanna Use that Verse? (Eph. 2:5-6 – Part 1)

They Beleive What?

The condition of the lost sinner is termed “total depravity” by Calvinists; not merely moral depravity, but total constitutional depravity; not merely unwillingness to repent and believe, but inability to repent and believe. The work of grace which they say is required is called “monergistic regeneration.” Monergistic means that this work is done unilaterally by God. God does not wait for the sinner to meet any conditions before transforming him, but God does it unilaterally whenever and to whomever he chooses. And regeneration is an old theological word meaning rebirth, or as moderns usually say, “born again.” So, the conclusion is that because sinners are incapable of repenting of sin and trusting in Christ, God unilaterally causes them to be born again. Only after He does this can the sinner genuinely repent and trust in Christ. 

In the next few posts we want to look at the go-to proof-text that Calvinists often cite as biblical evidence of monergistic regeneration. Hopefully we will see very clearly that this is probably not a passage the honest Calvinist will want to use again in the future since it fails on at least 3 major points to confirm their doctrine. The passage we will be considering is found in Ephesians 2:5-6:

5 …even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), 6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…

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Monergistic Circumcision? Is That Really A Thing?! (Deuteronomy 30:6)

Which Comes First?

Does the Bible teach that people must be born again (i.e. regenerated) before they can repent and believe? This has been debated among evangelicals going back to the Reformation, and can be seen even earlier in the writings of Augustine. Calvinists and Lutherans teach monergism, which means they believe people must be born again before a person can repent and believe. Arminians believe that being born again is a divine gift given to people when they place their trust in Christ. In this post we will look at one of the common proof-texts for monergistic regeneration.

Many broken Microphones

Deuteronomy 30:6

6 “And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.

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Dancing on the Edge of Calvinism

Enticed by Calvinism

There have been times in my life where I desired to accept the Calvinist theological system. Primarily because of the great blessings I have received from sitting at the feet of the puritans, reading their writings. I deeply appreciate their devotional depth and their focus on the glory of God in all things. Calvinism, at least in its classical form, also emphasizes the need for holiness, a need that I have recognized from the first day Christ saved me. This is a basic aspect of the Christian faith that is obviously lacking in our day in which worldliness is rampant among those who confess Christ. Besides these reasons for desiring Calvinism, there is the simple fact that embracing a tradition that already claims to have an airtight logical grid through which to view every verse of Scripture was very tempting to my lazy heart. But I was never able to embrace it, though I honestly tried to accept as much of the system as I could without throwing God’s word under the bus. 

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When You Believed

There is a common teaching in evangelical circles that a person receives the Holy Spirit the very first moment they believe in Christ. Many have never questioned this belief. But when asked for a verse that teaches such a doctrine, Ephesians 1:13 is usually the first mentioned. I am sure there are others, but this verse is the strongest proof text I know of for the doctrine. So let’s briefly consider what it is teaching.

Eph 1:13

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 

Many think that this verse teaches that the moment one believes they automatically receive the Holy Spirit. But actually it does not, as other verses show.

Acts 11:17

If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?”

In this verse Peter says the Apostles received the Holy Spirit “when they believed.” But we know that though they believed in the Gospels, they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until Pentecost. So the term “when we believe” does not mean the moment we believed, but as a result of our faith.

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