Saturday, July 19, 2008

Turretin Defended Against the Federal Visionists

I recently located Dr. Matthew McMahon's article entitled, Evangelical Postmodern Diversification, in which he defends against the Federal Visionists' historical revision. I particularly appreciated his defense of my favorite theologian, Francis Turretin, against the ludicrous charge of Pelagianism. (link)

Relic Worship in Old Testament?

I recently came across a comment by a person named Teresita who stated that she was "raised Catholic" and who seems to think that "veneration of some people's bones has a biblical basis, so the Catholic practice can't truly be called idolatry." (source)

Teresita went on to quote Exodus 13:18-19, which I'll reproduce below:

Exodus 13:18-19
18But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you.

I don't really see how the fact that Moses took the bones of Joseph with him is supposed to be analogous at all to the superstitious and (in some cases) idolatrous practices associated with relics. After all, in essence the pilgrimage from Egypt to Israel included a hearse, in which the box of bones of Joseph were carried. It's tough even to guess what the similarity is supposed to be. Is the idea that there was some sort of reverential treatment of Joseph's corpse? If so, ok ... but that's not all that the objectionable papist practices entail.

Perhaps they imagine that Joseph's bones were paraded about and put on display or that prayers were offered to Joseph (though there is not the least shred of Biblical evidence for such a thing). Let me provide the evidence for both why they did what they did and the full picture of what they did.

Why they did what they did.

Genesis 50:24-26
24And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence. 26So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.

You see, Joseph (who was a prophet) made the people of Israel swear (to the still-living Joseph) that they would bury him in the promise land. So, when he died, they embalmed him, placed his body in a coffin, and stored it.

Many years past. Eventually, as Joseph prophesied, the people went up out of Egypt. Although the Pharaoh had forgotten about Joseph, Moses and the people of Israel had not forgotten. They fulfilled their promise (as shown in Exodus above) and carried his bones out of Egypt and into the wilderness.

Finally, the arrived in the promised land:

Joshua 24:32 And the bones of Joseph, which the children of Israel brought up out of Egypt, buried they in Shechem, in a parcel of ground which Jacob bought of the sons of Hamor the father of Shechem for an hundred pieces of silver: and it became the inheritance of the children of Joseph.

What did they do? They did what they promised, they buried his body. They did not put it on display for various acts of necromancy. In fact, there's no indication that they ever took it out of its coffin. Recall that to touch a dead body was ceremonially unclean under the law of Moses, and consequently there would have been good reason to simply leave the bones in their coffin and bury the bones coffin and all in Shechem at the end of their long, prophesied, and promised journey.

The papists also sometimes bury the bones of those they think are particularly holy. Then, later, they exhume those bodies and put them on display. That's really not at all analogous to what happened here. In fact, the only particularly surprising here is that the bones were not more or less immediately buried. There was, however, a particular reason for that non-burial: a promise made to the living (not communication with the dead).

In short, on the basis of exegetical analysis of the text, we can reasonably reject the idea that it provides even the least shred of support for the practices of the Romanist church with respect to dead bodies and parts of dead bodies.


Republication of the Covenant of Works

In an interesting series, R. Scott Clark addresses the issue of the Republication of the Covenant of Works (part 1) (part 2) (part 3). Also recommend by RSC is this selection from Witsius (link).


Matthew Poole Project Continues

Volume 4 of Matthew Poole is now available via LuLu (link) both in electronic and print formats. Volume 4 addresses Exodus 1-18. The next volume, which will presumably complete Exodus is expected to be published in December of this year, the Lord willing.


Fishers of Men

I couldn't help but smile at this lovely feel-good news story about a river rescue (link). At the same time it reminded me of the Biblical analogy between fishing and evangelism.

We need to be careful, of course, to remember that we do not fish with a baited (or lured) hook, but with a net. Recall the experience of the disciples who were fishing all night and caught nothing, but when they obeyed God's instruction and fished on the other side of their boat, they got a massive haul?

Evangelizing can be like that. When God chooses to put fish in the net, he does so. We do our duty: we put the nets in the water, but God brings in the harvest of fishes. Sometimes it is a slow night, other times it is a busy morning.

But there is another application of the analogy. Sometimes we hear non-Calvinists suggest that man is drowning in a river, and God throws him a life preserver. Let me suggest that if God wanted to, God could pull him in with hook and line, like the fisherman in the story above. If God wants to save a man, nothing - not even a little bit of foolish flailing on the part of a spiritual flounder is going to stop that.

Even more amazingly, God can do so with means such as a hook that fights the will of the fish, but rather by changing the will of the fish so that he loves the net. Speaking for myself, I've been netted by the Lord, and I've never been happier. I'm his willing slave, who delights to be in the house of the Lord.

Praise be to that greater Fisher, for whom we are under-fishers,


Real Goodwin Compared to Real Turretin

Over at a Thomas Goodwin blog (hosted by someone who enjoys the writings of the historical Thomas Goodwin - and a blog that I enjoy reading and could generally recommend) there is a new post that compares Goodwin and Turretin on the issue of what would have happened to Adam had he continued in righteousness. It is an interesting hypothetical question. Being such an open fan of Turretin, I would not want to suggest to anyone that they should take my word that Turretin makes the stronger case.

On the other hand, the main point that Goodwin makes (as I understand it), namely that no promise of confirmation in righteousness after a time of righteous obedience is promised in Scripture, makes some intuitive sense and provides the reader who is interested in the topic with a reason to peruse in more detail the arguments presented by each side.

I would respectfully submit that in limiting one's research of Turretin on the issue to Topic 8, Question 6 (as it appears the TG blog has), one may miss some of the other things Turretin said on the issue, particularly in the third topic of the first part of Turretin's Institutes (around question 13).

Here's a link to the Thomas Goodwin blog's article (link).


New Age Heresies

These days, from what I can see, the "New Age Movement" is no longer quite as hip as it was (under that name, at any rate) a decade or two ago. It has since branched out in various regards, and I would be unsurprised if crystal sales have either tailed off, or at least stopped growing at the same rate.

The "New Age Movement," however, is part of a larger overall anti-Christ movement that seeks to avoid the authority of Scripture. It is a powerful movement. Gail A. Riplinger's over-estimation of the movement should not lead us to dismiss its reality. As Scripture explains, we do not wrestle against "flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."

Today, thanks to the Internet as well as to satellite televisions, the more blatant manifestations of this spirit of evil are open for all to see. What many, particularly the younger folk, may not recognize is that this nothing new. Todd Bentley and the rest of the Lakeland gang of rogues and heretics are not original.

I hope that the videos below help to demonstrate that fact. The first is a montage of clips including Bentley's "Revival" as well as the similar manifestations by earlier heretics, by Indian pagans, and by "New Age" cults (including those connected with certain branches of Yoga).

The second clip is a clip of the "ordination" service of Todd Bentley. Even leaving aside the 1 Timothy 2:12 issue, one cannot help but see the connection between the blonde's behavior and that of those in the preceding montage.

(Thanks to Theogenes at PuritanBoard for the latter clip and to Fusion at LetMyPeopleRead for the former clip)

Sadly, these evil anti-Christian cults have multiple ill effects. (1) They may lead some believers into a period of backsliding, as they walk away from the Word of God and into the delusion of false prophets, (2) They may lead other believers, in overreaction to condemn the truth orthodox and catholic religion (the religion defined by the Scripture) and into the delusion of churches that elevate their own supposedly ancient traditions above the authority of Scripture, and (3) They provide fodder for those mocking the true Christian religion, who confuse this substitute for the reality.

Here's an example of how such scoffers can and will use the non-Christian and anti-Christian religions to mock:

Notice that in this trailer for Religulous (Re-lig'-you-luss) the prominence of the anti-Christian religions and mockery of the true religion by way of linking and comparison to those false religions. It's obviously an inflammatory documentary that will appeal mostly to liberal inclusivists, secularists, and militant atheists.

Nevertheless, we need to be ready to explain the difference between the true Christian faith (defined by Scripture) and the substitutes defined by the New Age movement, the Vatican, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda (who claims to be the second coming of Christ), Mohamed, Pelagius, and so forth.

We also need to be ready address the criticisms of scoffers like Bill Maher who refuse to see the difference between Biblical Christianity and Santa Claus. One may note that one prominent anti-Christian religion doesn't seem to get much (if any) assault in the trailer: Judaism (though based on interviews Mr. Maher has done, it appears that footage of the "Wailing Wall" will be included).

Suffice to say that this film, which will undoubtedly exhibit Bill Maher's excellent wit, and the high production quality that we've come to associate with Lionsgate movies. It will be watched, and it will confuse and mislead those who don't know better.

Bill Maher's point in making the film is to deny the reality of Hell. On Larry King, he explained that the thesis is to suggest that his answer to people who tell him what happens when you die is to tell them, "You don't know." Mr. Maher is wrong, of course. We do know what happens when people die: they come before the Judge of all the Earth to account for what they have done. If there is any sin in them, the just judgment for that sin is Hell. There is only one way that one will not suffer the just judgment for one's sins, and that is the way taught in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. That one way is by repentance of one's sins and faith in Christ alone for salvation. It's a message that the world opposes, but it is the only way to be saved. If you are reading this and realize that you are trusting in something else to provide you with a proper standing before God when you die (whether that is your church, your personal holiness, or the general mercy of God) I strongly urge you to think again. Pick up a Bible and learn about God and the way of salvation from the guilt of sin.


Friday, July 18, 2008

On Vocations

Now if thou compare deed to deed, there is difference betwixt washing of dishes, and preaching of the word of God; but as touching to please God none at all: for neither that nor this pleaseth, but as far forth as God hath chosen a man, hath put his Spirit in him, and purified his heart by faith and trust in Christ.

- William Tyndale

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Omni-benevolence Summarily Refuted

I enjoyed the short work Ray Comfort made in this article (link) of the idea of divine omni-benevolence.

Two Bad Bible Versions

The Bayly Brothers (in particular, Tim, I think) have a good rerun of an article they previously posted (in 2004) on why "The Living Translation" and "Today's New International Version" are bad. (link) It's really a must-read, if you want a reasonable critique that - in my opinion - thoroughly obviates the need to purchase a copy, except for reference purposes.

Vatican vs. San Francisco

World Net Daily has a rather one-sided article (favoring the Vatican) reporting on a recent clash between the Vatican and the City of San Francisco. (link) Obviously, the issue is homosexuality. It's unclear to me why the Vatican thinks that suing the City of San Francisco over what amounts to nothing more than a statement of opinion is good use of their resources, but evidently the case has not only been brought to court, but appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In one way, it is kind of interesting to see how both groups view the other as employing hatespeech: the sodomites call the papists "anti-gay" and intolerant, meanwhile the papists call the sodomites "anti-Catholic" and intolerant.

In another way, it is sad to see that this is even an issue. Homosexual behavior is plainly contrary to Scripture. It is sinful, just as any sexual relations outside of legitimate marriage are sinful. It really ought to be a crime, but that's not what the majority of judges want.

May God have mercy on America,


Another Example of Wrong-way Evangelism

In this video, a young man openly opposes a sodomite Anglican bishop (link). He uses a more straightforward, but similarly disruptive technique to that shown in one of my previous posts (link) to attempt to evangelize Romanists. I have much the same comments. His heart seems to be in the right place, but he's not going about this attempt to reform his church in the proper manner. Interestingly, the leadership drowns out this heckler in roughly the same way the heckler was dealt with in the previous video: by congregational singing of a hymn (essentially a refined way of shouting down the heckler).

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Arminius - Closer Than You Might Think

We frequently refer to non-Calvinist evangelicals as "Arminians," in very broad sweeping terms. This is partly for simplicity, and partly because we view them as having some historical connection to Arminius. When one actually goes and reads what the historical Arminius wrote, one finds him to be much closer to the Reformed views than many of those to whom we attach the label "Arminians." The following is just one example:
The Essence of God is that by which God exists; or it is the first cause of motion of the Divine Nature by which God is understood to exist.
The Life of God, which comes to be considered under the second [momentum] cause of motion in the Divine Nature, is an act flowing from the Essence of God, by which his Essence is signified to be in action within itself. (Psalm xlii. 2; Heb. iii. 12; Num. xiv. 21.)
This [i.e. the Will of God] is the second faculty in the life of God, [§ 29,] which follows the Divine understanding and is produced from it, and by which God is borne towards a known good. Towards a good, because it is an adequate object of his will. And towards a known good, because the Divine understanding is previously borne towards it as a being, not only by knowing it as it is a being, but likewise by judging it to be good. Hence the act of the understanding is to offer it as a good, to the will which is of the same nature as the understanding, or rather, which is its own offspring, that it may also discharge its office and act concerning this known good. But God does not will the evil which is called that of "culpability;" because He does not more will any good connected with this evil than He wills the good to which the malignity of sin is opposed, and which is the Divine good itself. All the precepts of God demonstrate this in the most convincing manner. (Psalm v, 4, 5.)
Works of Arminius, Volume 1, Disputation 4, "On the Nature of God, Paragraphs VII, XXV, and XLIX.

One may note that Arminius' views changed over time. Evidently this disputation is taken from the time when Arminius "stood for his degree of D.D." I don't quote these paragraphs to endorse what Arminius had to say, but only to illustrate the apparent difference between Arminius and some of those who are viewed as Arminians.

I would particularly ask Godismyjudge (Dan) with whom I've been having a dialog, and who considers himself an Arminian, whether he accepts the description of God's nature, essence, life, and will of God provided by Arminius, or whether he distinguishes his position from that which Arminius evidently held.


UPDATE (16 July 2008): Godismyjudge (Dan) has provided a response (link) in which he suggests at least the following:

1) That there is some doubt that the work from which these quotations come are part of the true Arminian corpus (i.e. it's possible this work was actually the work of someone other than Arminius) - Dan nevertheless concedes that Arminius probably wrote it;

2) That there is a translation issue with respect to "first cause of motion" and "second cause of motion." Dan cites Richard Mullener [sp? - transcription from Dan's audio] who argues that Arminius was trying to refer to a "first logical moment" and a "second logical moment." Sadly, I don't have access to Arminus' original Latin, in order to get into the translation issue. I don't like having to rely only on a translation, and so if anyone can point me to the original Latin, I'd be happy to dig in further.

3) Dan makes some comment about Arminius' views evolving (and some theories about why they evolved). Those theories don't particularly concern me and I was't trying to hint at them. My point was simply that there was some indication by the editor or translator of Arminius' works that suggested that this might be one of the earlier works. Given that most men's views evolve over time, I wouldn't want someone to assume that Arminius didn't have the liberty (free will, if you prefer) to change his opinions over time.

4) Dan argues that (in Arminius) the work of making a decision are done by wisdom and reason, and the will simply acts on the final judgment of reason. Dan acknowledges that this sounds like the will is determined by the reason. Dan even acknowledges that this means that freedom attaches not actually to the will itself, but to the final (or last) judgment of reason.

5) Dan recommended the 11th Public Disputation, first paragraph, to explain the connection between the reason and the will in Arminius.

6) Dan argues that the "core" of Arminianism don't include the "tangled mess" of the relation of reason and the will. Dan defines Arminianism with respect to the TULIP acrostic, such that (in his view) Arminians are those who accept T and who reject U, L, and I. Dan seems to argue that both those who accept and those who reject P are properly designated Arminians.

7) Finally, Dan states that although he'd rather not get into this level of detail (because of the danger of taking such divisions too far), he does agree with Arminius (I presume he means as modified by Mullener [sp?]).

Do Romanists Pray to Saints?

Sometimes we hear claims that Romanists pray to saints. Then we read blog articles like this one (link) and we realize that, no, we were right. They do pray to saints. They even then give glory for answering prayer to the saints to whom they pray. Here's a link to the prayer used, reportedly with such great success (link). Note that, primarily, the prayer to Jude is in fact a prayer that Jude would pray to God.

It's so sad to see folks imagining that a "Novena" is anything more than an innovation of man. It's shocking to see folks giving glory to Jude as though Jude had provided the rescue, even on the hypothesis of the Novena itself. The worship ("devotion" in the words of the Novena) of Jude is something that the historical Jude, who is now in heaven, would not approve of. The supplication of the dead is a practice Jude himself never engaged in, and would never have encouraged others to engage in.

May God alone be given glory for all his deeds in heaven and on earth,


Monday, July 14, 2008

Divine Determination - More in Discussion with Godismyjudge

Some Clarification and Discussion of the Topic at Hand

God, in decreeing all that would come to pass, was acting freely: he was not necessitated and he was uncaused. That is to say, there is no preceding cause for the effect of God's decree of Providence, including the special instance of Creation. One can view the eternal decrees of God as God's nature acting on itself (wisdom meeting power, for example), but nevertheless we do not properly say that the nature caused the decree, although we say that the decree flows from the nature of God.

There is no time prior to the decree, because the decree is eternal. The decree, being eternal, is necessarily uncaused: that is to say, it is not something that came to be. Consequently, the label "cause" is not properly applied to the divine decree.

The Divine decree is not compatible with divine foreordination if "fore-" is taken with reference to the decree itself. Instead, the Divine decree is compatible with the divine knowledge by way of logical precedence. God knows what he has decreed will occur, but divine foreknowledge is logically subsequent to the decree. Thus, we might say that God knows what he will do, because He decided to do that. Thus, though God's knowledge is simple and eternal, we divide it according to its object: as to himself God's knowledge is natural and necessary. As to other things, God's knowledge is free, since God was under no necessity (properly speaking) to create. If it had not pleased God to create, God would be in no way less - nor does Creation fill any deficiency in God.

Nevertheless, the will of God (which is free and sovereign) is not arbitrary, but is exercised consistently with the attributes of God.

Thus, as Edwards puts it:
And it may be noted particularly, that though we are obliged to conceive of some things in God as consequent and dependent on others, and of some things pertaining to the Divine nature and will as the foundation of others, and so before others in the order of nature; as, we must conceive of the knowledge and holiness of God as prior, in the order of nature, to his happiness; the perfection of his understanding, as the foundation of his wise purposes and decrees; the holiness of his nature, as the cause and reason of his holy determinations. And yet, when we speak of cause and effect, antecedent and consequent, fundamental and dependent, determining aud determined, in the first Being, who is self-existent, independent, of perfect and absolute simplicity and immutability, and the first cause of all things; doubtless there must be less propriety in such representations, than when we speak of derived dependent beings, who are compounded, and liable to perpetual mutation and succession.

Relation to Discussion with Godismyjudge (Dan)

Dan has provided a new "Gabcast" (link) in which he continues to the discuss the issues we are considering. I find it interesting in a way that Dan chooses to push the idea that by asking for clarification I'm changing or shifting his question, while simultaneously changing my own questions to him. I see no problem with either of us answering only questions that make sense with respect to our respective positions.

Dan's latest clarification suggests that he wants to label as act only those things that are part of a "cause and effect" pair. Dan suggests that God's love of himself is not an act within the sense of his definition. I would respond that if the Father's love of Christ is not an act within Dan's sense, then there can arguably be no first act that is uncaused, by Dan's definition.

How's that? Well, God's love of Christ is itself uncaused, but is a cause for his acceptance of us in Christ. Thus, God's love of Christ is a cause, even though it is not an effect. If failure to be an effect disqualifies something from being an "act" within Dan's definition, then the first act must be an effect that produces another effect ... i.e. a caused cause.

I suppose Dan could seek to evade the force of this argument by simply stating that the only kind of act he's interested in is one that has a direct impact in time/space in the material world. With such a clarification, the first "act" is the act of actually creating the world from nothing.

God said (cause), "Let there be light," and (effect) there was light.

Considering God logically just prior to his actualization of the creation, God had decreed to do what he did. The decree to create, thus, is logically prior to the actual act of creating. Thus, the act of creating was necessary in view of the divine decree, though the divine decree was itself free.

The act of Creation was a temporal act: an act that instantiated time. Thus, as I previously noted, it can be viewed as the first act from that perspective. The heavens and earth were the first created things - the first things that were caused. God brought them forth out of nothing, as he had from all eternity decreed to do.

But this discussion is evidently not what Dan wants. Dan appears to be interested in the question of whether God could have decreed (prior to the decree) to have created a world in which on May 31, 2008, it did not rain.

God could have, if he had desired, so decreed. God is omnipotent. God freely decreed according to his good pleasure. No one constrained him. He did what he wanted to do. There is no "cause" assignable to his act of decreeing, instead we view the sovereign decree of God as itself uncaused but the cause of all things that come to be. On the other hand, if such a decree would not be the wisest and best, God - by his nature - would be constrained from doing so.

One may here object by claiming that such a limitation is some form of necessity, but the objection is fruitless. As Edwards explained:
That all the seeming force of such objections and exclamations must arise from an imagination that there is some sort of privilege or dignity in being without such a moral necessity as will make it impossible to do any other than always choose what is wisest and best; as though there were some disadvantage, meanness, and subjection, in such a necessity; a thing by which the will was confined, kept under, and held in servitude by something, which, as it were, maintained a strong and invincible power and dominion over it, by bonds that held him fast, and that he could, by no means, deliver himself from. Whereas, this must be all mere imagination and delusion. It is no disadvantage or dishonour to a being, necessarily to act in the most excellent and happy manner, from the necessary perfection of his own nature. This argues no imperfection, inferiority, or dependence, nor any avant of dignity, privilege, or ascendancy. It is not inconsistent with the absolute and most perfect sovereignty of God. The sovereignty of God is his ability and authority to do whatever pleases him; whereby "he doth according to his will in the armies of heaven, and amongst the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What dost thou?"
Thus, the answer to Dan's question, as best understood, is simply that we don't know whether it was possible or impossible (in the sense Dan wants to use the term) for God to do what Dan has hypothesized, because to answer that question, we would need to plumb the depths of God to determine whether such a decree would be consistent with the attributes of God.

Everything happens for a reason. I don't know the reason God ordained rain on May 31, 2008, but I know that the rain had a purpose as part of his most wise and excellent plan. To use Edwards distinctions, God had the natural ability to do whatever he wanted, and God exercised that natural ability consistent with his moral perfections.

At the end of the day, let's return to Dan's original question, which was:

Given whatever existed before the first act, was it absolutely impossible for God to create a world which didn’t include rain on May 31, 2008[,] in the afternoon?

What we have seen is as follows:

1) By first act, Dan means God's decree to create.
2) By "absolutely impossible" Dan apparently does not want to include possibility based on God's power, but only the compossibility of God's power in connection with everything else that God is (for example, the compossibility that God would be wise and that God would decree according to Dan's counterproposal for May 31).
3) By "before" Dan is only interested in logical (not temporal) priority.

With all those clarifications, we have discovered that the answer would require us to know whether Dan's alternative is consistent with the rest of what God is. While we can freely acknowledge with Dan that God is all powerful, God freely acts only in a way that is most wise and holy. While we cannot see anything unwise in Dan's counterproposal, we simply cannot find any clear evidence that makes us definitively say that God could have adopted Dan's counter-proposal for the day.

On the other hand, we know that God's plan for the day was wise, which makes us suspect that Dan's alternative may have been less wise. Since it would be inconsistent with the moral perfection of God to freely do that which is less wise, we would not say (using Dan's definitions) that it was "possible" for him to do that, though of course it was within God's natural power to do so, and consequently was possible.

Hopefully this definitively answers Dan's question.

I don't think this answer will be particularly helpful, though, to the average reader because of the unnatural sense in which Dan is using the terms "before," "act," and "impossible." Nevertheless, I await Dan's response, if any.


Celebrating the Release of Prisoners

Today the French celebrate "Bastille Day," a day on which the rebellious mob of the French Revolution overwhelmed the security of France's most famous prison, the Bastille, and released its prisoners. I have a proposal this year to remember on this day God's gracious act of regeneration. It is a bit incongruous, I suppose to liken the Sovereign setting free the rebels, as opposed to the rebels overthrowing the sovereign, but perhaps the irony will provide a much-needed reminder of the work of our Most High King!

Isaiah 42:6-7
6I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; 7To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.

It is by regeneration that our eyes are opened. It is by regeneration that our bondage to sin is broken, and the shackles of slavery to the flesh are shattered. It is the Holy Spirit working in regeneration that opens our eyes to the truth, so that we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Isaiah 49:8-9
8Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; 9That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places.

This again has the same concept. I should point out that both passages have a double fulfillment. A first fulfillment was in the return of Judah from Babylon. The second and greater fulfillment is in our salvation from sin.

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

As you can see, the prophet Isaiah is not alone in describing God's work of salvation in such terms. It is the Holy Spirit that regenerates, but he does so on the basis of the blood of the covenant: the blood symbolized in the water of baptism.

This is not simply my teaching, but the teaching of Peter the Apostle, who wrote by divine inspiration:

1 Peter 3:18-22
18For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. 21The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ: 22Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

So then, we may glorify God singing Psalm 102:

Psalm 102:19-22
19For he hath looked down from the height of his sanctuary; from heaven did the LORD behold the earth; 20To hear the groaning of the prisoner; to loose those that are appointed to death; 21To declare the name of the LORD in Zion, and his praise in Jerusalem; 22When the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms, to serve the LORD.

Here's one proposed metered version from Scottish Metrical Psalter:

He from his sanctuary’s height
hath downward cast his eye;
And from his glorious throne in heav’n
the Lord the earth did spy;

That of the mournful prisoner
the groanings he might hear,
To set them free that unto death
by men appointed are:

That they in Sion may declare
the Lord’s most holy name,
And publish in Jerusalem
the praises of the same;

When as the people gather shall
in troops with one accord,
When kingdoms shall assembled be
to serve the highest Lord.

Praise be to our Gracious Prison-Breaking Savior!