Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

John 1:12 And The Right To Become Children of God

John 1:12-13 are often cited together as proof texts for unconditional election.  John 1:12-13 says, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”  Calvinists believe that the verse clearly shows based on John 1:13 that the act of salvation is completely God and that includes our unconditional election.

Does John 1:12-13 really teach this?  First of all let me state that Arminians do hold that salvation is a work of God.  Despite claims to the otherwise, we are not synergistic in our salvation approach.  We agree that salvation is a work of God that He does in a person and this is not accomplished by our human efforts whatsoever.  I was listening to a song the other day and while the song was good for the most part, one line of the song says that if we take one step into the light we will find that God will run to us.  This is not salvation as taught in the Bible.  Salvation is a work of God that He begins from beginning to end.  It is all of God and not of flesh.  No doubt we are to believe the gospel but without the aid of the Spirit, who could believe (Romans 3:10-18)?

But notice that the regeneration of the new birth that John 1:13 speaks of is predicated upon John 1:12 and believing in Jesus.  When we believe in Jesus (though the grace of God and the work of the Spirit), we are saved.  At that moment, we are born again (John 3:3-7).  This work of regeneration is a work of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-7) and is based on the sinner hearing the gospel, having faith in Jesus Christ, and repenting of their sins (Acts 2:38-39).  John 1:13 then is not teaching unconditional election in the Calvinist sense where the person must be regenerated to believe the gospel (justification unto faith) but rather John 1:13 points back to John 1:12 and reminds us that regeneration is a work of God that He bestows on those who believe in Jesus.  Bear in mind that this is the purpose of John’s Gospel, to point his readers to the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29; 20:31).

The Arminian viewpoint of John 1:12-13 would thus be:

Belief = Regeneration

The Calvinist viewpoint would be:

Regeneration = Belief

But John 1:12-13 doesn’t say this.  John 1:12-13 doesn’t say that regeneration comes before belief.  John 1:12 says that those who received Jesus, God gave the right (or power or authority) to become children of God.  Faith in Jesus opened the door for our salvation which is by God’s grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) and is a work of God (John 1:13).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/07/2011 at 10:00 AM

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