"The Holy Spirit works in a saving fashion _normally_ through means,
rather than directly, the means being Word & sacraments."
Even though God uses means to bring people to saving faith in Himself,
this work of the Holy Spirit in a person's heart amounts to giving him or
her a new spiritual life. It cannot be acounted for as a "natural"
John 1:12-13: Yet to all who received [the Word], to those who believed
in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God--children
born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband's will,
but born of God.
Rom 8:7-8 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to
God's law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature
cannot please God.
Eph 2:4-5 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in
mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in
trangressions--it is by grace you have been saved.
Col 2:13: When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of
your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ ...
It seems to me that we need to regard the Spirit's action in giving
anyone a new birth as a _supernatural_ act, that cannot be accounted for
by a natural human response.
George also wrote:
"There's a close correspondence with the way God works providentially in
creation. In the _vast majority_ of cases, God works mediately, through
natural processes." (emphasis added)
George, how do you _know_ that God works _mediately_ "in the vast
majority of cases." Is this a presupposition? Do you have a firm
theological basis for this view?
This is "faith seeking understanding."