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I caught some of RC Sproul's radio show yesterday and he said that OT saints were regenerate just like NT saints, if I heard him correctly.  This really took me back, as it was not my understanding at all.  But it did make me think...

 

1.  I originally reject the idea because my understanding of regeneration and being born again include the indwelling of the Holy Spirit...and I don't think that became God's MO for dealing with the faithful unitl Pentecost. 

 

2.  I realize this is likely connected with Sproul's covenant theology and that I was brought up as a dispensationalist (currently undecided with big dispy sympathies).

 

3.  But, being one who leans on Reformed theolofy for sotiriology, the question arises how did the OT saints then come to faith without being regenerated?

 

4.  Which leads me to think...am I wrong about regenration/being born again being closely connected to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (or otherwise confused)?

 

Don't let me down folks!

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I'd say you might want to look at Hebrews 11.
Casey, RC Sproul, Sr, is one of my favorite Theologians, His teaching on the attributes of God, and the doctrines of grace, which are standard Calvinism, I love! However, I recognize that he teaches that the NT church is a continuation of the OT church, which also was regenerated, with the Indwelling Holy Spirit, prior to Pentecost. (which, I, being a dispy, don't agree with- note, I did not say that he is wrong) I think his is standard Covenant Theology. I hope that I have not mis-represented it.
In answer to question #3, I think God was able to grant faith, without the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. Remember that the LORD was always chastising Israel for the hardness of their uncircumcised hearts. And there was a promise that, in the future, He would write His Word, in their hearts, which occurred on, and has continued since Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit "came upon" (Not Indwelling) the Judges, prophets, Even king Saul. But the Holy Spirit would also frequently leave them after the special empowerment was no longer needed.
Pentecost was where the Holy Spirit was received without measure.

Seriously it'd be virtually impossible to be soteriologically Calvinist and NOT believe the OT saints had the Holy Spirit. Like you'd have to say they weren't even saved. How does one reconcile that?
Char; God justified them by the gracious gift of faith, (those who actually had faith) just like He justified us. Why is there a need to believe that they possessed everything that believers have, today. "therefore having been justified by faith (not indwelling Spirit), we have peace with God through Jesus Christ" Rom 5:1.
My contention is that they did not have to be indwelt by the H.S. or be part of a body that didn't begin to exist until Pentecost.
Will have to continue later, Love to y'all. Jack
Char said:
Pentecost was where the Holy Spirit was received without measure.
Seriously it'd be virtually impossible to be soteriologically Calvinist and NOT believe the OT saints had the Holy Spirit. Like you'd have to say they weren't even saved. How does one reconcile that?
Good feedback ya'll...I'll try to sum up my thoughts and questions based on everyone's feedback so far.

1. I currently understand regeneration as a supernatural work of God involving the Holy Spirit indwelling us. I also understand this to be unique to the New Covenant as evidenced by Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John, Joel's prophecy, and Pentecost as at least partial fulfillment of both.

2. I'm currently undecided on what comes first, regenration or faith...or the question of whether true faith is purely the result of supernatural regeneration. I think Reformed thought generally says 'yes' and I see why.

3. If I'm right about point #1, then OT saints were not regenerated, at least not like we are in the New Covenant, but obviously they did have saving faith.

4. BUT, if they had true saving faith without regeneration, obviously that has implications for some Reformed folks and the theology of the bondage of the will. From what I remember, Luther would say that ultimate despair in one's own ability and thus trust in the cross is not a 'work'...and thus maybe doesn't require regeneration?

5. Another thought...if regeneration wasn't possible before Christ's work and Pentecost, why does he tell Nicodemus he must be born again early in his ministry?

So Char and others...are you saying that the OT saints were reborn and indwelled with the Holy Spirit just as we are today? I can't see that being the case...
John the Baptist was beheaded before Pentecost. John was not yet, in this promised Kingdom. I believe the passage you quoted actually supports my position. I was rushing to an appointment, and didn't think to include it, but definitely would have used it for support.

love4theword said:
Jack, if what you posit is true, why was it said of John the Baptist that the 'least of us' is greater than him, one of the last Old Testament Prophets?

Jack said:
Char; God justified them by the gracious gift of faith, (those who actually had faith) just like He justified us. Why is there a need to believe that they possessed everything that believers have, today. "therefore having been justified by faith (not indwelling Spirit), we have peace with God through Jesus Christ" Rom 5:1.
Love4, I will quote from the KJV: Matt 11:11 "...Among them that are born of woman (Not of God) there has been none greater than John the Baptist; not withstanding that he that is least in the Kingdom of heaven is greater than he." If John had actually been in the Kingdom of heaven, maybe he would have been considered the greatest one there, also.
I take from this, that John, born of a woman, the greatest,(Most important OT prophet ever, because he introduced Christ, of whom the entire OT had pointed), was still less than the least important person born-again, into the Kingdom of Heaven.
And Luke 7:28 is even stronger: "..but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he." (John Baptist)
I can only take, from this, that John was not yet, part of the future kingdom. And that this kingdom did not begin before Pentecost. I certainly believe that after the Resurrection, that He with all the OT and NT saints
will be part of Christ's earthly kingdom, on earth, ruling from Jerusalem. This is one of the major differences between Covenant and dispensational theology. I still love my Covenant brethren.
I believe that the OT saints were forgiven and justified by faith. While covenant theology teaches that the OT saints had all the features of the NT, and the biggest change was that the Gentiles were now included. The fact is, that in the OT, Gentiles could be circumcised and offer sacrifices, just like the Jews did, however, the Jews looked down upon gentile dogs. They were forbidden in the inner temple, in Jesus' day. I think that the covenentalists "read back" into the OT, new features that began at Pentecost...things that were never taught in the OT. This is necessary, for them, since the NT church is merely an expansion of the OT church.

Char said:
Pentecost was where the Holy Spirit was received without measure.

Seriously it'd be virtually impossible to be soteriologically Calvinist and NOT believe the OT saints had the Holy Spirit. Like you'd have to say they weren't even saved. How does one reconcile that?
Casey; I believe that Romans 8:28-39 displays both the chronological, and logical sequence for salvation to come about, and be completed, forever!

Casey Birch said:
Good feedback ya'll...I'll try to sum up my thoughts and questions based on everyone's feedback so far.

1. I currently understand regeneration as a supernatural work of God involving the Holy Spirit indwelling us. I also understand this to be unique to the New Covenant as evidenced by Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit to the disciples in John, Joel's prophecy, and Pentecost as at least partial fulfillment of both.

2. I'm currently undecided on what comes first, regenration or faith...or the question of whether true faith is purely the result of supernatural regeneration. I think Reformed thought generally says 'yes' and I see why.

3. If I'm right about point #1, then OT saints were not regenerated, at least not like we are in the New Covenant, but obviously they did have saving faith.

4. BUT, if they had true saving faith without regeneration, obviously that has implications for some Reformed folks and the theology of the bondage of the will. From what I remember, Luther would say that ultimate despair in one's own ability and thus trust in the cross is not a 'work'...and thus maybe doesn't require regeneration?

5. Another thought...if regeneration wasn't possible before Christ's work and Pentecost, why does he tell Nicodemus he must be born again early in his ministry?

So Char and others...are you saying that the OT saints were reborn and indwelled with the Holy Spirit just as we are today? I can't see that being the case...
Ditto! That was easy! :)

Dr Mike said:

If all one depended on to answer this question were exegesis of Scripture, it would not be concluded that OT saints were sealed and/or indwelt by the Holy Spirit, or that they were regenerated or "born again."

If theology is allowed to develop in spite of an absence of biblical support or exegesis, however, then it must be the case (for covenant theologians) that OT believers are identical to NT believers in terms of the results of salvation or, as Sproul seems to be saying, even in the means of salvation. Theirs is a theological belief, not strictly a biblical belief: they can defend it theologically, not textually.

Salvation is by grace through faith in God. That is true of the OT and NT believer alike. There is no indication that OT believers were sealed, indwelt, or routinely filled with the Holy Spirit; neither were they "born again" as NT believers must be.

Sproul's statement is an example of the tail wagging the dog, i.e., theology determining exegesis* rather than exegesis determining theology.

* Or, more accurately, theology determining theology.
Derek; I ( a dispy) understand that Nobody will physically/literally, sit at any table with Abraham and Jesus Christ, until Christ's earthly kingdom comes about, which if I understand them correctly, is denied by Covenent Theologs, along with much literal prophetic interpretation, while Dispys believe that most OT prophesies shall be fulfilled literally.
I'm pointing out differences in understanding...not claiming the others are wrong. I still love my Covenant Brethren., who, by the way, are more faithful to the doctrines of Grace, than many/most of my Dispy brethren. (IMO)

Derek said:
Matthew 8:11, peoples. Sheesh.
;)
Ratatosk; Tnx for the heads-up. So the covenantalists don't believe that this "gifting" of the Spirit was the same as the indwelling by the Spirit, that began at Pentecost? Note that even after Pentecost, the Holy Spirit still, sometimes, "came upon" those who possessed the Indwelling H.S. Like the signs on Pentecost, itself, which were/are not the regular, daily operation of the In-dwelling one. (unless you are one that speaks in tongues, and gets "slain" every Sunday) After the apostles were arrested, the H.S. "came upon them",( at the same time the H.S. was also indwelling them) making them bold, to speak out to the authorities. I do not see the OT gifting by the H.S. the same as the indwelling, in the N.T. But the NT does teach that the HS distributes gifts, severally, to every believer, as it pleases Him. I don't see the OT claiming that the HS indwelt or sealed the believers. It seems it read back into the OT because of Covenant Ecclesiology, as stated by another, in this thread. Blessings to all. Tnx for bearing my boring!
I've put so many parenthesis, in there, I'm not sure anyone but a "Mentalist" will understand it.

Ratatösk said:
Jack said: "While covenant theology teaches that the OT saints had all the features of the NT..."

That's not quite right, Jack.

Reformed theologians generally teach that the operations of the Spirit that are necessary to conversion are the same in Old and New Testaments, but they also teach that there is a difference between the outpouring of the Spirit in the Old and New Testaments.

This is often understood in terms of gifting. For example: when there was complaining that God had given the Spirit to others so that they could help him lead, Moses longed for the day when all of God's people would have the gifting Spirit as he had. After Pentecost this is the case. The Spirit hasn't settled (for gifting) on this one or that one. He has now been given to all believers.

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