Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “The Reformed view of predestination teaches that before a person can choose Christ his heart must be changed. He must be born again.” (Chosen By God, p.72, emphasis mine)
Although this may sound completely foreign to the Bible, Calvinists insist that man is so entirely corrupted by sin, that only those who are Born Again with a new heart, and a new spirit, are capable of sincere repentance and genuine faith in Christ. However, not all Calvinists agree:
Calvinist, D. James Kennedy, writes: “Our faith and our repentance are the work of God’s grace in our hearts. Our contribution is simply the sin for which Jesus Christ suffered and died. Would you be born anew? There has never been a person who sought for that who did not find it. Even the seeking is created by the Spirit of God. Would you know that new life? Are you tired of the emptiness and purposelessness of your life? Are you tired of the filthy rags of your own righteousness? Would you trust in someone else other than yourself? Then look to the cross of Christ. Place your trust in him. Ask him to come in and be born in you today. For Jesus came into the world from glory to give us second birth because we must--we MUST--be born again.” (Why I Believe, p.140, emphasis mine)
No doubt, Kennedy believes that regeneration precedes faith, as did Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, but it is also true that they believed that another form of regeneration, comes after faith:
Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon, explains: “If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners.” (The Warrant of Faith, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, R.C. Sproul, writes: “A cardinal point of Reformed theology is the maxim: ‘Regeneration precedes faith.’ Our nature is so corrupt, the power of sin so great, that unless God does a supernatural work in our souls we will never choose Christ.” (Chosen By God, pp.72-73, emphasis mine)
It is agreed that some form of regeneration must precede faith, as Kennedy and Spurgeon would doubtless agree, but the question is what kind of regeneration? Is it the full blown regeneration of new birth in Christ, or is it a preceding grace of enlightenment, as in Arminian, Prevenient Grace? John 1:9 states: “There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.” Such enlightenment may include God enabling someone to believe, such as when the Holy Spirit opened the heart of Lydia, according to Acts 16:14, in order to enable her to respond to the Gospel. The Holy Spirit also is said to convict the world of its sin, according to John 16:8. At Revelation 3:20, Jesus is said to knock on the door of our heart. These are the types of things that Arminians envision as the preceding regeneration of the Holy Spirit, while not being the regeneration that comes with being made fully regenerated and made Born Again in Christ, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
John Calvin comments: “Furthermore, as Christ is given to us for our sanctification and brings with him the Spirit of regeneration--in short, as he united us to his own body--this is another reason why no one can have faith unless he is born of God.” (1, 2, 3 John: Calvin/Henry, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.88, emphasis mine)
Calvin also states: “…those who believe are already born of God.” (John: Calvin, The Crossway Classic Commentaries, p.23, emphasis mine)
Calvinist, James White, comments: “And what is the inevitable result of being born of God? Belief that Jesus is the Christ. ...this means that in 1 John 5:1 the belief in Jesus as the Christ is the result of being born of Him. ... Therefore, sheer consistency leads on to the conclusion that divine birth precedes and is the grounds of both faith in Christ as well as good works.” (The Potter’s Freedom, p.288, emphasis mine)
So here it is at 1st John 5:1, that Calvinists seek to prove that being made “born of God” is what irresistibly or effectually enables us believe in God and become saved.
The following statements describe the nature of the new birth:
Jerry Vines explains: “The lost man or woman has no desire for the things of God. Unregenerate souls have no interest in finding out what God wants them to be and to do. But the new-birth experience puts into our heart a desire really and actually to do what God wants.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.49, emphasis mine)
Vines explains: “When we are born of God, his seed, a new nature, remains in us. The new life we receive from God at the moment of salvation is the seed, the new dynamic.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.117, emphasis mine)
Vines explains: “But the good news of the gospel is that Jesus Christ through the new-birth experience will give you a new nature, the nature of God, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ can meet the battles for you and conquer them, giving you victory.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.184, emphasis mine)
Vines explains: “When a man realizes that he is lost, needs Jesus, repents of his sin, and puts his personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, at that moment he is born again and becomes a member of the family of God.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.58, emphasis mine)
Vines explains: “Salvation is being born into the family of God and becoming aware of the presence of God in your life.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.60, emphasis mine)
Vines explains: “Being born into the family of God brings the privilege of sins forgiven.” (Exploring 1-2-3 John, p.59, emphasis mine)
Jay Carty explains: “Spiritual birth requires a decision. Spiritual deadness doesn’t. As a matter of fact, failing to decide is considered a decision against God’s solution and leaves a person spiritually dead.” (Playing with Fire, p.37, emphasis mine)
That is exactly right. Although we don’t make ourselves Born Again, when we surrender our heart to Christ, through a conscious decision to receive Him, God the Father makes us born again through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 1:13)
Adrian Rogers states: “Do you know when we have been saved, we are born again, and we are born from above, and when we’re heaven-born, we are heaven-bound, and when we’re heaven-born and heaven-bound, we’re heaven-blessed, and there are some radical transformations that take place in our lives. And when we’re born from above, there are some birthmarks, there are some traits of the twice-born because not everybody who is talking about heaven is going there; not everybody who says he or she is saved is saved.” (Birthmarks of the Believer: 1 John 2:3-11, emphasis mine)
So the context of 1st John 5:1-5 identifies who is really a Christian, that is, who is really Born Again, and the answer to that question is that the one who believes that Jesus is Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God, he is a true Christian. 1st Corinthians 12:3 states: “No one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” Jesus states: “‘Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’” (John 8:24) When you “test the spirits” (1st John 4:1), if anyone denies that Jesus is the Messiah, realize that they are from the world, rather than from God.
Being “heaven-blessed,” as Adrian Rogers puts it, speaks of what we have in Christ. In Him, we are made into a “new creature” (2nd Corinthians 5:17), for which the Holy Spirit dispenses the gift of a “measure of faith.” (Romans 12:3) However, does this negate the fact that faith is also received from hearing of the word of Christ? (Romans 10:17) No. It is by the power of the Gospel, through which the Holy Spirit dispenses faith, that unbelievers receive the faith necessary to repent, believe and become saved. Now in Christ, as the Born Again believer, the Christian receives ever increasing faith, necessary to fulfill the call of God in their lives. Ultimately, the Calvinist is pressing into duty, a passage that is not talking about how to become a Christian, but the mark identifying what a true Christian really is.
Calvinists typically (with the exception of D. James Kennedy), do not believe in a “prayer of salvation,” which they term a “work of prayer.” To a Calvinist, not only would this fail to obtain salvation, despite what Romans 10:13 states, but on the basis of being “Decisional Regeneration,” would give people a false sense of security. For more on this point, here is a link to an article on How to become Saved.