I received the following question in my in box:
I have purchased and read most of the books and articles written by Zane Hodges. His insights into Scripture are wonderfully enlightening.
As I was reading through the commentary on 1 Peter I was hit by and interesting comment on page 36 in the context of 1 Peter 1:22. “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren….”
Zane’s comment caught me by surprise. Speaking of the Holy Spirit Zane writes, “He quickens our hearts to obey the gospel.”
Some folks might say that sound like something written by Andrew Murray (super 5-pointer).
Would you have some insight about what Zane might be saying in that context?
Clearly he is not using ‘quicken’ to mean ‘made alive’, as in to regenerate.
I think what Hodges meant is that God enables us to believe in Christ.
I know that he understood Acts 16:14, opening the heart, to refer not to regeneration, but to a work of the Spirit that occurs before anyone believes in Christ. Basically Acts 16:14 reverses the Satanic blinding of 2 Cor 4:4. See here an article by Zane Hodges entitled, “God’s Role in Conversion,” in which he explains 2 Cor 4:4 and the fact that regeneration does not precede faith.
Note this comment by Hodges in that article:
The statement Paul makes here is revealing. Evidently Satan does not subscribe to the notion that man is inherently incapable of believing. He would be wasting his time blinding man if man is already hopelessly blind! But, in recording this activity of the evil one, the Apostle Paul reveals that he himself regards it as the reason why his Gospel is “veiled to those who are perishing” (2 Cor 4:3).
With this perspective, Luke 8:12 agrees as well. There our Lord explains the activity of the “birds of the air” in His famous parable of the soils (see Luke 8:5ff.). He says: “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved”. Here, too, it is clear that apart from what the devil does, these people might be expected to believe the Gospel.
It is not Biblically correct to call faith itself the gift of God. Salvation is the gift of God (Eph 2:8-9), but the Bible never says that faith is.
What then is God’s role in the conversion of sinners blinded by Satan? The obvious answer is that God’s role is revelatory-which is to say, He allows His truth to break through to man’s heart in the same way that light penetrates darkness. This divine action is beautifully stated by the Apostle in 2 Cor 4:6, where he writes:
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness [see Gen 1:3], who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (NKJV).
God is in the business of penetrating satanically-induced darkness. Whenever that happens, faith is awakened in man’s heart and he is instantly born again. But, this by no means excludes the fact that unsaved people, under the Spirit’s influence, often seek the truth (or may be frequently exposed to it) prior to the moment of faith.
Also, see my article on Acts 16:14, one which was edited by Zane Hodges, here.
Unlike a 5-point Calvinist, Hodges believes that regeneration follows faith. It does not precede faith. See here an article by Dave Anderson which shows that regeneration does not precede faith.
But there is a working of the Holy Spirit that occurs before we come to faith that allows us to see the truth about Jesus and the promise of everlasting life.