Q&A: Unborn Elect

Unborn Elect

Question

Are the unborn elect regenerated when in their unborn state and destined to come to faith?

Answer

It is sometimes happens that the unborn elect are regenerate. This is certainly the case with those unborn elect who die before birth. No elect individual can fail to be regenerated before dying, including infants (cf. WCF 10.3).

But Scripture does not teach that all elect individuals are regenerated from their conceptions. Rather, it indicates that regeneration typically takes place through the effectual call of the Holy Spirit (cf. WCF 10.2), and by means of baptism (though not necessarily at the time of baptism; cf. WCF 28.6). In other words, the elect are not typically born regenerate, but are regenerated through the work of the Holy Spirit as an independent action upon them (John 3:3-8).

It may help to think of this in terms of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The new life of regeneration flows from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9-10). This means that the minds of those who are regenerated are controlled by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:6), so that they do not reject the gospel and so that they are loyal to God. But this is not true of many of us before we come to faith. On the contrary, we are God's enemies prior to the Spirit's effectual call (Eph. 2:1-5).

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.