God has caused us to born again

We can mean nothing more or less by the term “will” than the entire spiritual aspect of a human being.  The human will is the human spirit, and that will, was dead in trespasses and sins, unable to respond to the gospel, unable to move Godward at all.  Luther says of free will, “If we do not like to leave out this term altogether (which would be most safe, and also most religious) we may, nevertheless, with a good conscience teach, that it be used so far as to allow man a “Free-will,” not in respect of those which are above him, but in respect only of those things which are below him; that is, he may be allowed to know, that he has, as to his goods and possessions the right of using, acting, and omitting, according to his “Free-will;” although, at the same time, that same “Free-will” is overruled by the Free-will of God alone, just as He pleases:  but that, God-ward, or in things which pertain unto salvation or damnation, he has no “Free-will,” but is a captive, slave, and servant, either to the will of God, or to the will of Satan.”[1]

John Calvin said, “When the will is enchained as the slave of sin, it cannot make a movement toward goodness, far less steadily pursue it.  Every such movement is the first step in that conversion to God, which in Scripture is entirely ascribed to divine grace.”[2]

Prior to regeneration, then, the human will is dead and helpless. It is free to do as it pleases, but subject to the sovereign hand of God and capable of doing only what is consistent with its unregenerate, reprobate sin nature.  We must be born again in order to see the kingdom of God.  We need that first step in our rescue to come from God – His gracious quickening and awakening to the gospel.  Is this a free will?

John Calvin, “In this way, then, man is said to have free will, not because he has a free choice of good and evil, but because he acts voluntarily, and not by compulsion.  This is perfectly true:  but why should so small a matter have been dignified with so proud a title?”[3]

The unregenerate human will is free in the sense that it does as it pleases, but not free from slavery to sin, and no man’s will is ever free from the sovereign hand of God.

So that’s what it means to be born again.  We needed to be born again, and God caused us to be born again because we were otherwise dead in our sins and completely unable, in our own ability, to turn to Him.

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[1] Luther, Martin, On the Bondage of the Will, Translated by Henry Cole, Wildside Press, LLC, 1931, pp. 55-56.

[2] John Calvin, Institutes of the Human Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge, 2.3.5, Hendrickson Publishers, 2008, p. 180.

[3] John Calvin, Institutes of the Human Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge, 2.2.7, Hendrickson Publishers, 2008, p. 162.

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