Written by Allen S. Nelson IV |
Sunday, February 6, 2022
We know a sinner will not make one step toward God in his own power, for the flesh is no help at all (cf. John 6:63). But God…(Eph. 2:4). Salvation truly is of the Lord! (cf. Jonah 2:9). Monergism, then, gives us all the confidence in God and His Work, and thus motivates us to be better evangelists.
There are two words to define at the outset of today’s post. The first is monergism, and the other is synergism. Both of these words contain the Greek word “ergon” which means “work.” The prefix syn means “with”, and the prefix monomeans “alone.”
In Christian theology, the word “Synergism” means that the new birth (regeneration) results from the work of both God and man together. It essentially teaches that being born again is God’s work with man. God does His part; man does his part, and voila! – regeneration.
Monergism, on the other hand, says that the new birth is entirely God’s work alone. Regeneration, rather than being God laboring “with” man, is God’s work in man. Every person is in such a dead and depraved condition that he or she is unable and unwilling to bring about the new birth. God does this of His own will by the Word of truth according to His great mercy (cf. James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:3).
As D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached, “[Y]ou do not become a Christian as the result of human activity, not even human endeavor at its best and highest…Becoming a Christian is all of God.”
In today’s post, I’d like to give you 3 practical arguments for why you should hold to monergism as opposed to being a synergist. You should believe that regeneration is God’s work alone apart from any assistance from the sinner. Here’s why:
The Bible is Trustworthy
I had to begin here. You should hold to monergism because it’s what the Bible teaches. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter so much what Calvin or Spurgeon or anyone else believed in comparison to what the Bible teaches.
Titus 3:5 teaches us that we did not save ourselves. We did not make ourselves savable. Rather, God saved us without our assistance.
We must not let our particular soteriological tradition or personal experience, or heroes of the faith cloud our understanding of what the Scriptures teach. The Bible is sufficient to teach us how salvation works. It is also authoritative; therefore we are obligated to trust its precious truth! “It is the Spirit who gives life, the flesh is no help at all” (John 6:63).
As J.C. Ryle preached, “if the Bible be indeed true and our only guide to heaven, and this I trust you are call ready to allow, it surely must be the duty of every wise and thinking man to lay to heart each doctrine which it contains, and while he adds nothing to it, to be careful that he takes nothing from it.”
The Bible is our source for all sound doctrine. Everything we believe must be held up to the scrutiny of God’s Word. Everything we believe must flow from this Book for it is truth. It is in the truth we must stand, and it is by the truth that we are sanctified (John 17:17). The Bible is worthy of our time and study.
If the Bible never presses you, never makes you uncomfortable, never leads you to question yourself, never challenges you, never changes your mind, actions, and heart, never humbles you, never convicts you…I’m not sure which translation you’re using but switch now. Of course, the problem is not the “translation,” is it? It’s operator error.
To follow Jesus is to follow His Word. It is to desire to understand and know and grow in sound doctrine. And so rightly grasping the doctrine of monergism is practical because to not understand it is to misunderstand a core truth of the Bible.
Yes, you can be a Christian and be confused on this doctrine. But why would you want to be confused or mistaken? Doesn’t being a Christian make you want to know His word rightly?
Psalm 111:2 says, “Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” Oh, how great a work of God is the new birth! So, may we continue to study to remove any unbiblical notions of this precious work from our minds.
The Holy Spirit is Truly God
Now, I do not mean to imply that those who do not hold to monergism are not trinitarians! But I do want to press us to understand that all sound doctrine is interconnected. Monergism is a consistent way of magnifying and glorying in the divinity of the Holy Spirit.
Herman Bavinck writes,
The Christian church…has consistently – and all the more vigorously as it gained more insight into the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit – assumed a special divine activity in regeneration. Just as, to the extent it became more firmly persuaded of the necessity of internal grace, it confessed all the more decisively and joyfully the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit.
Now, certainly synergists can identify “a special divine activity in regeneration.”