1 Min Read

No, faith is a gift. An important idea that is a distinctive of Reformed theology is this: regeneration precedes faith. That idea is central to understanding Reformed theology and the Reformed doctrines of grace.

Regeneration is the Spirit’s work of bringing us to life. It was the Spirit of God that was uniquely involved in creation as the breath of God or the ruach of God in Hebrew. You see this in Ezekiel’s dry bones, where the breath of God goes out over the dry bones, and they take on sinew, muscles, and tendons—they come to life. You see the same thing in regeneration, especially with Nicodemus. He asked, “How can I be born again?” Jesus answered, “You’re born from above” (John 3:3). This is the doctrine of regeneration.

We are dead, and dead people can’t do anything. We’re not sick in our sins, and we don’t need medicine; we are dead. We can do nothing, which shows our helplessness. So, regeneration is a bringing to new life by this work of the Spirit, who then gives faith after regeneration. Therefore, faith is not a work that we do; it is a gift of God.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Stephen Nichols and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.