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Irresistable Call in 1 Peter

The excerpt that follows really ought to go without saying, and for most readers here, it probably does. Yet, among Christians, even those who identify as evangelical and fundamentalist, it represents the minority view. Evangelists like Billy Graham have expended great effort to talk people into making “a decision for Christ.” The heretic (and all-around oddball) Charles Finney taught that the Bible “calls upon [the unregenerate] to repent, to make to themselves a new heart.” The result of this, he said, was regeneration. In contrast, the bible teaches that regeneration is wholly an act of God.


Peter exulted that all who are chosen and foreknown by the Father are regenerated by the Spirit. The truth of the sinner being “caused” to be born again is reason for great praise in the heart of every believer:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. . . . You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.

—1 Peter 1:3, 23

The new birth is a work of sovereign grace within the human soul. No one can cause himself to be born physically. Neither can anyone cause himself to be born again spiritually. God, who alone is active in regeneration, must cause the unbelieving sinner to be born again. Boice comments, “No one is responsible for his or her physical birth. It is only as a human egg and sperm join, grow, and finally enter this world that birth occurs. The process is initiated and nurtured by the parents. Likewise spiritual rebirth is initiated and nurtured by our heavenly Father and is not our own doing.” Regeneration is entirely a divine work of sovereign grace that occurs at the deepest level of one’s being. Leighton writes, “Natural birth has always been acknowledged as belonging to God’s prerogative: ‘Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him’ (Psalm 127:3). How much more is the new birth completely dependent on God’s hand!” MacArthur adds, “The new birth is monergistic; it is a work solely of the Holy Spirit. Sinners do not cooperate in their spiritual births (cf. Eph. 2:1–10) any more than infants cooperate in their natural births. Jesus told Nicodemus, ‘The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8).”

—Steve Lawson, Foundations of Grace (Reformation Trust, 2006), 320–321.

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Posted  in: 1 Peter · Foundations of Grace · James Montgomery Boice · John MacArthur · Steve Lawson
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