Calvinists teach that regeneration must come before we are able to believe and be saved.
That is, calvinists teach that we must be born again before we can believe and be justified (made right before a holy God, that is, saved). As the article below from monergism.com states, we are born again before we are saved, or the article from christiandoctrine.com that we are regenerated (= born again) before we can move forwards toward salvation. Understand this: calvinists actually teach that we are born again in order that we might be saved! And yet, when the need arises, they’ll also claim that you have to be born again before you can believe (as per John 3:3), thus proving that we must be saved before we can believe! This calvinism is unbelievably confused and confusing!
God regenerates us and then we believe, and hence regeneration precedes our conversion.
After a person is regenerated, that person cooperates by exercising faith and trust. But the first step is the work of God and of God alone.
(RC Sproul https://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/onsite/sproul01.html)
Apart from the new birth, we are unable to accept the gospel
Apart from the new birth, we are unable to come to Christ or embrace him as Lord
The teaching on being “born again” is much more specific, and the bible always places that event at the beginning of the Christian life, before conversion, justification, and so on (see question 41 above). When these terms are used imprecisely, it is easy for errors to slip in to one’s understanding, such as the teaching that we’re “born again” through faith, when the bible teaches that we’re “born again” to faith, that is, that God’s regenerating grace produces in our hearts the willingness to believe in him and be saved.
- Election – God’s choice of people to save. This choice occurred before the foundation of the world.
- Predestination – God’s The work of God to ordain to salvation those who have been elected to it.
- Calling – The preaching of the gospel message.
- Regeneration – The change in the person produced by God.
- Faith – The trust an individual has in the work of God on the cross.
- Repentance – Turning from sin.
- Justification – The imputation of righteousness to the individual bus making him righteous according to the law.
- Sanctification – God’s work in the individual to make him more like Christ.
- Perseverance – God’s work in the individual results in the person continually believing throughout his life.
- Glorification – Resurrection to glory with God.
Also, obedience cannot be integral to salvation, because of the process of salvation itself. Until and when a person’s spirit is made alive through regeneration, he cannot respond to God, and he certainly never seeks Him. He might seek a version of spirituality, but not salvation as given by God. He can never seek or respond to God, because he is dead in his sins! God says that. Regeneration is needed so that when God speaks to him, the man can start to move forward towards salvation.
This part is often not realised by the person to be saved, and obedience is not part of the equation. Rather, he is made to move forward by God’s mercy and grace, until the point is reached where he hears or reads the Gospel, repents and is saved. This is all an action by God alone, without any other work. The trust given for salvation is not a work but a product of God’s grace. The person will be saved, with or without his trust, because that is the nature of God’s grace and sovereignty.
Calvinists claim that you must be regenerated (born again) before you can repent, believe and be saved. It is also an undeniable fact that being born again must bring new life, according to the calvinists’ teaching that a dead person cannot make himself alive; only the Holy Spirit may regenerate a person and give him new life.
So, how is it that John 3:36 says that if you don’t believe, you cannot see life?
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
The only way calvinists may be even slightly logical on this one is to deny that regeneration means new life! And they won’t! They can’t afford to teach that people may be born again yet still be dead in their trespasses! (Note how much they love Ephesians 2:1 which they use to teach the new life in regeneration first!
And you [hath he quickened], who were dead in trespasses and sins;
But if being born again means being saved (which the Bible clearly teaches), and if we must believe in order that we might be saved (another consistent Biblical teaching), then we must believe before we can be quickened from our deadness in sins! Please be logical!