Born Again

The Indwelling and the dilemma facing Calvinism

According to Calvinism, a person is just as depraved in the latter days of Revelation as they are in post-Fall Genesis, and that a person is in just as much of a need for an Irresistible Grace in Revelation, as they are in Genesis, and that a person is in just as much of a need for a Persevering Grace in Revelation as they are in Genesis. 

Jim from “I do believe that the John 6:44 drawing goes all the way back to Genesis, as does Christ’s role as savior span backwards to Genesis as well.” (Dialogue on John 6:44 with, emphasis mine)

In other words, Irresistible Grace has been in full function all the way back since Genesis.

​Question: According to Calvinism, the only way that anyone could ever be saved, from Genesis to Revelation, is by an Irresistible Grace, in which God must swap out the old stony heart and replace it with a new heart of flesh, according to the promised New Covenant cited at Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Ezekiel 36:26. But if those two passages are exclusive to the New Covenant, then how would Calvinism account for the conversion of someone in the Old Covenant?

Answer: In order to make Calvinism work, Calvinists must conclude that all of the Calvinistically elect in the Old Covenant were fully Born Again and Regenerated.

Prior to the resurrection, Jesus mentioned to the thief of the cross next to Him that they will be together that day in “paradise,” presumably Abraham Bosom that Jesus had described in detail at Luke 16:19-31. At the resurrection, the paradise portion of Abraham’s Bosom was carried into Heaven, and then any believer who died from that point onward, went straight into the presence of the Father in Heaven, just as Paul stated, “We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” (2nd Corinthians 5:8) No Old Covenant believer could ever say that they went home to be with the Lord. Rather, it was Sheol and the place of the righteous dead while awaiting the time of Christ.

​Question: Was anyone in the Old Covenant “Born Again”?

Answer: No. That is unique to the New Covenant, and which therefore becomes a major sticking point for Calvinism, because according to Calvinism, the New Birth and Irresistible Grace go hand in hand.

​Question: Did anyone in the Old Covenant possess “spiritual life” or “regeneration”?

Answer: No. That is unique to the New Covenant. However, one may consider that an Old Covenant believer had some form of spiritual life, given the intimate involvement of the Holy Spirit in their life and being. However, this would not include the Indwelling, which is a completely unambiguous term.

In the Old Covenant, the Holy Spirit is described as coming upon people, moving people, filling people, to strengthen them or to give them words of prophecy to speak, or even the comfort of the Holy Spirit, such as with Samson, Samuel, Saul, David, Jeremiah and the prophets, but not to the extent of the New Covenant believer, since in the New Covenant, you actually have the Holy Spirit taking up residence within the believer (Romans 8:9), and perhaps is best illustrated at 2nd Corinthians 3:16: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” That was never stated of any Old Covenant believer. 

In the Old Covenant, notice the difference. Haggai 2:5 states: “As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!” In the New Covenant, it’s no longer about the Holy Spirit abiding in your midst, but about God making His abode within each believer, which is where you have the true fulfillment of regeneration, the new birth, the new creation (2nd Corinthians 5:17), the new heart, in terms of all that was promised at Jeremiah 31:27-34 and Ezekiel 36:26. In the Old Covenant, they didn’t yet have that, and they didn’t yet have the Helper, as mentioned from John 16:7, which Jesus said was to the “advantage” of the NC believer: “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” This is the One who takes up residence in the New Covenant believer, and which represents the meat of the New Covenant: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation--having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.”

​Question: Did Mary have “spiritual life” or “regeneration”?

Answer: If you loosely understand “spiritual life” and “regeneration” as the intimate involvement of the Holy Spirit within the life and being of the Old Covenant believer, then yes, Mary had spiritual life, but if you understand spiritual life in terms of the Indwelling spoken of at 2nd Corinthians 3:16, then no, Mary did not yet have “spiritual life” and “regeneration” until the inauguration of the New Covenant with the rest of the New Covenant believers. The same applies to Mary, as with John the Baptist, who was the greatest under the “Law and the Prophets.” Jesus stated: “Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11) There is a fundamental difference between the Old and New Covenant believer. The weakest New Covenant believer is in a more privileged position than even the greatest of the Old Testament prophets, whether it be John, or Mary, or Elijah, or Moses, or Abraham or David.

Here are two articles on this topic:

Were Old Testament People Born Again?

Old Covenant Believers and the Indwelling of the Spirit