John 1:12b "to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—".
When were they given the right to become children of God? Was it before they believed or after? What does it say?Gal 3:2 "I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?"
Did these people receive the Spirit before believing or after? What does it imply? And how would a Calvinist answer Paul's question if he had been one of the Galatians? Would he have said, "Neither! I received the Spirit before I believed. I didn't receive it by observing the law nor by believing!"Ac 2:38 "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
When did they receive the Holy Spirit? Before they believed or after? What does it imply? In fact did they receive the Spirit before they were justified or after?Ga 3:26 "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus,"
So how could a person be born of God before believing? A person is born of God through faith - just as John 1:12 indicated.Ephesians 1:13
When did they receive the Holy Spirit? Was it after they believed or before? What does it say?
"By grace you have been saved" had already been mentioned in Ephesians 2:5 "made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved." (niv) But I think that both of these have been imprecisely translated using the dative of means, whereas it is more likely the author meant for the dative of manner to be use "with grace" or "graciously" rather than "by grace". For graciously describes the manner in which he saves us, as he has an attitude of graciousness. "by faith" is using the preposition "dia" in the genitive exlusively indicating instrument or mechanism of salvation. God grabs hold of our faith and pulls us to safety. But those without faith are not saved. Or as Robertson puts it in Robertson's NT Word Pictures, "Grace" is God’s part, "faith" ours.
Now there are those who interpret the phrase "And
yourselves, it is the gift of God," to be
to faith being a gift. But such an idea cannot be support by this
passage. According to Greek grammar the gender of "this" must match
what it's referring to. "this"
feminine, and therefore "it is" is
not referring to faith. Furthermore "this" is in the nominative case
and therefore the subject of the sentence and "gift" is a predicate
nominative. Much like in English if I said "This is a gift", "This" is
the subject and "gift" is the predicate nominative. The meaning is
clearer if we write it this way, "This
gift of God, being saved by grace through faith".
Concerning the word "gift", there are two words most commonly used for "gift" in the New Testament. "dorea" emphasizes the freeness of a gift, while "doron" is used for sacrificial offerings. It is this second that Paul is using, alluding to the sacrificial offering God made through Christ's atoning work on the cross. Salvation is the sacrificial offering of God, as opposed to being obtained by one's own works. He speaks extensively of this in Romans and Galatians, contrasting the righteousness obtained through faith in Christ as opposed to the righteousness of the law which is obtained through one's works, being a performance-based salvation concept.
Romans 3:20-24 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus."Thus we have "for graciously you have been saved through faith, and that sacrificial offering is not from yourselves, but from God, not of works, that no one would boast."
Thus if "faith" is the gift, then it is faith and not the atoning work of Christ on the cross which is the sacrificial offering made up to God. Furthermore is the issue of boasting. Is it true that if God does not give us faith as a gift that there would be reason to boast? Not according to the Bible. "For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not toward God. For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.'" Rom 4:2,3 Here the contrast is between works and faith. It is not between faith being a gift versus faith not being a gift. And the same contrast is drawn in the Ephesian's passage as well. Yet Paul mentions nothing here in Romans about the necessity of "faith" being a gift. He simply states that since it is by faith and not by works therefore there's nothing to boast about.
And they may also bring up Hebrews 12:2 "looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith", and demand that "author" means that we have no part in developing our faith. But again the Greek reveals otherwise. For the word for "author" simply refers to Jesus being our chief leader or Prince, as the word is translated in a number of places. But a leader is not a leader unless he has followers. He leads, we follow. This is the synergistic relationship of which I speak. But Calvinists view Jesus more as a puppet master and we his puppets in coming to faith in Christ, a view which is not supported by the Bible. Indeed you will never hear a Calvinist preach as Peter did saying, "Save yourselves from this corrupt generation." Acts 2:40
"Today the church runs around teaching that if you believe in Jesus and call on his name you will be born again. It turns the born again experiance into something that happens as a result of an action we take. I taught it this ways as well. However, I submit that one must be born again first(be born of the spirit) so that we might hear and accept the words Jesus spoke which can not be understood in the flesh. Once born again we can hear and repent."
Before a person is even given a right to be a son of God, they must be born of God. Only then will he "believe in his name".
(Compare with John 1:12)