The Fallacy That Regeneration Guarantees Obedience of Faith

Calvinists slam the Arminian position of prevenient grace.  They ridicule the idea that people can actually resist the drawing of the Holy Spirit to Christ as  Savior. Yet, it’s the Arminian position that is in total harmony with, and totally consistent with, the normal working of the Spirit in one’s life. It’s the Calvinist position of irresistible grace that is out of step, and goes beyond the boundaries of Scripture in order to make their doctrine of unconditional election work for them. 

It’s a fallacy that regeneration always results in the obedience of faith unto salvation (Acts 6:7; Ro 1:5; Ro 16:26). While Calvinists may have an issue with the idea that sinners can resist the Holy Spirit as He’s drawing them to faith in Christ, what do we do as Christians? Does the fact that we’ve been born-again and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit guarantee that we will always obey the Word of God or the promptings of the Spirit? What Calvinist would answer in the affirmative? If that were the case, there wouldn’t be any sin among God’s people; we would all be living perfect lives before God. But the truth is, we walk in the influences of the Spirit, not in the irresistable control of the Spirit, as though we had no will of our own. While we as believers are drawn to obedience, it’s not in a manner that locks our will into submission. We’re given the freedom to choose which way we will go — and sometimes, if not often, we choose to go our own way.  Again, what Calvinist could disagree with that?

Therefore, why would it be any different with the “regenerated” sinner who doesn’t even know Christ? Regeneration is the same at every point in one’s life, and it’s the same Holy Spirit who works within a regenerated life at every point. Nowhere does Scripture indicate that the composition or the operation of regeneration changes at any point in a person’s life.

So then, Calvinists would have us believe that a person is under the irresistible control of the Holy Spirit one moment, and then suddenly in a resistible state the very next — that the sinner is irresistibly drawn to the obedience of faith, but as a believer he or she is then put into the place where they’re free to choose to obey or not to obey.

The doctrine of irresistible grace is a position that Calvinists must hold to in order to provide the means of bringing “the elect” to Christ. But considering the inconsistency of this position with the normal working of the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t this strongly suggest to them that they could be wrong in their interpretation of their champion passage, John 6:44? Does it not suggest that, perhaps, they need to reevaluate their interpretation? The Holy Spirit is consistent, and so is Truth. Truth always harmonizes with all elements of truth. Yet, their position lacks this harmony.

Let’s talk about the Arminian position of prevenient grace. We agree with Calvinists that man is totally depraved, and as such, unable to come to Christ on his own. As the message of Christ is being heard, the Spirit of God must open the sinner’s spiritually blind eyes to the truth. He must free their captive will, which enables faith — which, upon faith, results in regeneration. Contrary to what Calvinists claim, Arminians don’t teach that faith originates within the sinner. It originates with the Holy Spirit, who provides the means of faith, but not resistibly so. And that, of course, is in total harmony with the normal operation of the Holy Spirit within a person’s life. It’s the Calvinist position that is at odds with it. As the believer must yield to the Holy Spirit with a willing heart, so must the sinner yield to the Holy Spirit with a willing heart that has been prepared by Him. 

If one has the freedom of will to choose not to obey God as a born-again believer – even one who has walked with God for many years – then how can one make the argument that a newly regenerated sinner will always respond in faith? It’s an untenable argument, one that’s based on a need to support one’s theology, rather than on consistent truth. Prevenient grace is consistent with what the Bible teaches in regard to both salvation and in living out the Christian life — that the power of the Spirit is available for obedience, but does not make it irresistible. Furthermore, Arminian theology teaches that the enabling faith that provides for our salvation, is the same enabling faith that keeps us saved. Thus even initial saving faith is not a guarantee of final salvation, but is a faith that must endure in reliance upon the Holy Spirit throughout our lives. It’s a continuous yielding of our will to the saving power of Christ. Hence, we can see the validity of Arminian theology in recognizing the consistent manner in which the Holy Spirit deals with us from beginning to end.

From my point of view, the inconsistency of the Calvinist position on this subject, provides strong evidence of a false theology overall. In spite of the evidence against the truth, Calvinists, nevertheless, do everything in their power to defend a theology that contradicts. With the arguments of this article in mind, the burden is on them to show how their position of irresistible grace is more biblically sensible than prevenient grace. It’s squarely on their shoulders to explain the lack of consistency and harmony of their position, as discussed here.