Friday, November 17, 2017

The Portion of the Unbelievers

"The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers." (Luke 12:46 kjv)

More Questions For Hardshells

1. What is the character of "that servant"? Saved or lost?

2. What is the destiny of "that servant"? Heaven or Hell?

3. What destiny is intended in the words "portion with the unbelievers"?

4. Who are "the unbelievers"? Are they saved or lost?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dr. Piper on Handling Criticism

Dr. John Piper, a teacher to be admired, wrote the following on how to handle criticism. In the article "How Do I Process Personal Criticism?" he said (emphasis mine):

"Today we talk about the grace of receiving personal criticism from others and learning from those criticisms for personal growth. There are some incredibly vivid proverbs on this, like Proverbs 17:10: “A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool.”

So how do we receive rebuke as a wise man seeking greater wisdom? And specifically, Pastor John, how do you do it? It’s the question from an anonymous listener in Australia. “Hello, Pastor John! I was wondering how you deal with personal criticisms from others? How do you process them, learn from them, and determine which ones are accurate and which ones are not?”"

Dr. Piper next gives these words in reply under the following headings.

Desire Growth

First, realize that according to Scripture, it is wise to be eager to grow through rebuke, rather than eager to defend yourself.

Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. (Proverbs 19:20)

A rebuke goes deeper into a man of understanding than a hundred blows into a fool. (Proverbs 17:10)

Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. (Proverbs 9:8)

Reprove a man of understanding, and he will gain knowledge. (Proverbs 19:25)

Let a righteous man strike me — it is a kindness; let him rebuke me — it is oil for my head; let my head not refuse it. (Psalms 141:5)

So it’s wise to want and receive correction, rebuke, and criticism.

Be Persuadable

Second, I try to make it my aim to be humble and open rather than being controlled by anger at words of criticism. I say I try.

James says, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason” (James 3:17). I love that little phrase because the Greek word for “open to reason” is “persuadable.” In other words, you’ve just said something, then somebody disagrees, they say something back to you, and then you are persuadable. You’re going to listen. You are willing to be changed if you’re wrong.

James also says, “My beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20). So humility listens; anger pushes back really quickly. Let’s strive to be humble and not quick and self-defensive in anger.

Cling to Promises

Third, when I feel knocked off balance by criticism or deeply destabilized, which can really happen — it can go really deep sometimes and shake you deeply — I pray for God to hold on to me and guide me, and I try to trust his promises. The psalmist states, “If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me” (Psalms 139:9–10). I really need to feel that God is holding me if I’m being pummeled by somebody, or hundreds, and feel like I’m being knocked off balance in my life.

“Aim to be humble and open rather than being controlled by anger at words of criticism.”

James also says, “My beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19–20). So humility listens; anger pushes back really quickly. Let’s strive to be humble and not quick and self-defensive in anger.

Test Everything

Fourth, I try to test everything by the word of God, not just by my preferences or tradition. That includes testing not just ideas, but also attitudes and behaviors. “Test everything, hold fast to what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Or Psalm 119:24: “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.”

So what if you’re criticized for being unloving? First John 5:2 is a real stabilizing help. It says, “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments.”

In other words, the measure is not just my feeling wobbly right now because I just got criticized for being loving or unloving. The question is, Was I in obedience to his commandments — his word? Was I following his word when I said what I said or did what I did? So measure the criticisms by the word of God.

Give It Time

Fifth (this is so practically important — for me, anyway), give yourself time to consider the criticism before you speak. The flesh, my flesh, is quick to strike out in defense. I’m thinking first of marriage. The person who corrects me most often in the universe is my wife.

Ask for Counsel

Sixth, surround yourselves with enough people who can give balanced assessment of what you’re being criticized for. Proverbs 11:14 reads, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”

I would say safety, not just from outside, but safety from your own despair over how many people have criticized you. If people who know you (eight of them, for example) say, “No, no, no. You have not done what they say you have done,” that’s a huge stabilizing force. This is especially true when assessing really serious criticism. We need to ask wise counselors whether they see in us the things we’re being criticized for.

Final Judgement

One last thing: we do what Jesus did when he was abused. This is whether it’s true or not, right or wrong. Jesus “entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). For us, as sinners, that means we do not pass final judgment on ourselves. Others do not pass final judgment on us. God has the final word in Christ. It’s our only hope that he would treat us graciously because of Christ.

None of us is without sin, and therefore, probably there’s a grain of truth in every criticism. But the gospel will keep us from sinking in despair.

That is all good advice from Dr. Piper. God help us all to follow it.

Hardshell Elder Gathering



This is a pic of the ministers attending the 2016 Smoky Mountain Primitive Baptist Meeting, a bi-annual meeting of Hardshells (mostly preachers). (see here)

I attended this meeting a couple times when I was a Hardshell and even once after I had left them. It was begun by Elder Gene Barker, a preacher I met as a young Hardshell preacher in the 70s. This meeting has become a place for preachers to go and show off their preaching talents and to discuss the affairs of the Hardshell denomination.

My nephew, Elder John Davenport, has been attending these meetings, especially since father passed away. I suppose he feels as though he needs these elders as he tries to pastor the church father pastored in Ohio. He is the young minister seated in the front row, fourth from the right.

Does anyone notice anything unusual about this picture? Where are the young preachers? Does this picture not reflect the state of the denomination as a whole?

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Faith Is Not Necessary

The following is a response from a Hardshell to my posting hard nut questions for hardshells and these two questions: 1. Is faith necessary for eternal salvation? 2. What is faith?

"My answers will probably be too short for your liking, but here it goes.

1. Is faith necessary for eternal salvation? No

2. What is faith? Faith is the outward works shown by the child of God, given as a gift from the Holy Spirit (Eph 2:8-10). No matter how small that faith might be. A tree is known by its fruit. Although, that answer does make me think about the Hindu or Muslim. Does the Hindu or Muslim show faith for Jesus Christ? I would say no. But do they believe in God? I would say yes. Aren't the Hindu and the Muslims in the same camp as the Jews? Are we to say that all Jews who reject Christ are not born again?"

The Errors

1. Faith is works, outward works

But, these scriptures prove otherwise:

"But to him that worketh not, but believeth" (Rom. 4:5)
"Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace" (vs. 16)

2. Faith is outward, not inward

"For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (Rom. 10:10)

Works are the fruit of faith, but they are not the same. All is by faith, for "whatever is not of faith is sin" (Rom. 14: 20)

3. Hindus and Muslims "believe" in "God" but not in Jesus

But, the Hindus and the Muslims do not believe in the true God. In fact, basic Hindu belief is polytheistic. To call Hindus and Muslims "believers" and contend that the term "believer" in scripture includes such people is a gross interpretation. The bible would call such religious people "heathen" or "unbelievers." But, more on this shortly.

4. Jews who reject Jesus are born again

But, this is not taught in scripture. If so, where is it taught? Explicitly taught? Is it not explicitly taught in scripture that unbelieving Jews, those who reject Christ and the NT revelation, are lost?

"I said therefore unto you (Jews), that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8: 24 kjv)

5. Faith in God seems to be necessary 
(but not right conceptions about God)

The Hardshell in his response seems to want to make some kind of faith necessary for salvation, even though he states positively that faith is not necessary for eternal salvation (or to be constituted one of the "elect" and "called").

When he expressly says that faith is not required to be eternally saved, he is defining "faith" as the NT defines it, as being a belief in the one true God and in his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the good news of salvation through Christ. However, when he argues for the heathen having "faith" or being a "believer," then he seems to want to make "faith" universal in all the regenerate.

The Hardshell brother wants to define "faith" as religious belief, truth not being a necessary object to faith.

Questions

1. What kind of tree (regeneration, life) is it that has no fruit of faith?
2. Can one be saved without believing in religion or divinities?

Inconsistencies

I. Faith is the gift of the Spirit

Syllogism

1. Faith is the gift of God
2. Faith is good works
3. Good works are the gift of God

II. Faith is believing in some religion or deity

It seems that the position of this Hardshell brother affirms that atheists have as much a reason to expect to go to Heaven as the believer in Jesus.

Faith is not defined by this writer. Or, at least, not well defined. It is said to be "outward works" and to involve believing in "God," but not believing in Jesus. But, it seems clear that "faith," bible faith, according to this Hardshell brother, is equated with "religious belief." But, this is not a bible definition.

Is "faith" ("religious belief") necessary to salvation? When he says that "faith" is not necessary to salvation, is he denying that religious belief is necessary? Does he not affirm even the salvation of atheists? And, is not this Universalism?

I am sure that when he says that faith is NOT necessary for salvation, that he is thinking of faith as it is generally defined in Scripture and among the Christian community, as a belief in the the Hebrew God and in his Son Jesus, or a belief in the Trinity, in which name all who enter the community are immersed. This is the faith that our Hardshell brother deems unessential for salvation, and as no essential part of the spiritual life given of God in regeneration and renewal. But, if one defines "faith" in an odd and novel way, as do the Hardshells, then "faith" may be essential to salvation and thus what is universal in all the elect and born again.

Necessity of Faith for Salvation

The following post shows clearly that faith in the revelation of Scripture is a necessity for being eternally saved.

Gospel Means Of Grace VII

C. H. Spurgeon said:

"Where there is no faith, there has been no quickening of the Holy Spirit, for faith is of the very essence of spiritual life." (Faith Essential to Pleasing God, MTP, Sermon #2100, Vol. 35, 446).

That is the truth of scripture and one must be blind not to see it. This is also the great truth taught by Baptists throughout history. The only ones to deny such a truth are the Universalists and the quasi Universalist Hardshells like this Hardshell brother.

Notice this verse of scripture that came to my mind as I read the response of this Hardshell to my two hard nut questions for Hardshells.

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life." (John 5:24 kjv)

These words clearly identify those who have spiritual life and who shall be finally saved in Heaven. Who are they? How can they be identified and known? What is it that separates them from the world? They "hear" the "word" of Christ and "believe" in the Father and Son.

What about the unbeliever?

"he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16: 16)

"but he that believeth not is condemned already..." (John 3: 18)

"...he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him." (John 3:36)

"...he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son." (I John 5:10)

"But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8)

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Heb. 11:6)

"Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief...Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief." (Heb. 4:6, 11)

Fulton Confession of Faith of Primitive Baptists, from the "Fulton Convention" (1900) in Fulton, Ky., endorsed the London Confession of 1689. The record of that convention is - "The London Confession of Faith was approved by a unanimous vote of the meeting."

Here is what these Hardshells said about the old 1689 Confession:

8. The London Confession of Faith, adopted over 200 years ago by thirty-seven of the ablest ministers of England and Wales, representing over 100 churches, has served one of the most needful services among our people of any document of faith since the days of the apostles, and has stood unquestioned as an expression of the Primitive Baptists’ interpretation of the Bible from then till now. At the present assembly of 51 ministers, representing 335 churches, aggregating 14,500 members in direct correspondence with over 100,000 Baptists, the Confession has been carefully read and approved.

So, this brother, in saying that "faith" is not necessary to be eternally saved, is against the faith of his fathers. Here is what the 1689 Confession says about faith and salvation.

CHAPTER XIV. OF SAVING FAITH.

1. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls, the work of the Spirit of CHRIST a in their hearts, and is ordinarily wrought by the ministry of the word; by which also, and by the administration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, prayer, and other means appointed of God, it is increased and strengthened.

2. By this faith a Christian believeth to be true whatsoever is revealed in the Word on the authority of God Himself...and so is enabled to cast his soul upon the truth thus believed...but the principal acts of saving faith have immediate relation to Christ, accepting, receiving, and resting upon Him alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the Covenant of Grace.

I hope this brother will become an old or original Baptist and adopt what the 1689 Confession affirms on the topic.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hard Nut Questions For Hardshells

These are simple questions for Christians. They are not simple questions for Hardshell cultists.

1. Is faith necessary for eternal salvation?
2. What is faith?

Conviction - Evidence of New Birth?

Wrote Samuel Rutherford:

"All these foregoing endeavors and sweatings, being void of faithcannot please God, Heb. 11:6. These who act in the strength of them are yet in the flesh, and not in the Spirit, and so can do nothing acceptable to God, being yet out of Christ, Rom. 8:8, John 15:4-6. And the tree being corrupt, the fruit must be sour, and naught; humiliationsorrow for sindispleasure with ourselves, that go before conversion, can be no formal parts of conversion..."

"Those are not moral preparations which we perform beforeconversion, nor have they any promise of Christ annexed to them, as, He that is humbled under sin shall be drawn to Christ, or He that wisheth the Physician, shall be cured and called to repentance. We read of no such promise in the word..."

"Many have storms of conscience, as Cain and Judas, who go never one step further. When, therefore, Antinomians impute to us that we teach, That to desire to believe is faith, or desire to pray is prayer, they foully mistake. For raw desires, and wishes after conversion and Christ, are to us no more conversion, and the soul's being drawn to Christ, than Esau's weeping for the blessing was the blessing, or Balaam's wish to die the death of the righteous was the happy end of such as die in the Lord..."

"The humiliation and sorrow for sin, and desire of the Physician, by way of merit, or having the favor of a gospel promise, do no more render a soul nearer to Christ and saving grace, than the want of these dispositions..."  (As cited by me here)

Wrote Stephen Charnock:

"The soul must be beaten down by conviction before it be raised up by regeneration; there must be some apprehensions of the necessity of it. Yet sometimes the work of regeneration follows so close upon the heels of these precious preparations, that both must be acknowledged to be the work of one and the same hand."  (As cited by me here)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

A Good Policy

I agree with the following statement:

"I have a policy of not answering ambush questions. There's no right answer to the wrong question. I reserve the right to reformulate trick questions, loaded questions." (Steve Hays - see here)

I try to always answer legitimate questions, but I will not be gullible. I also ask a lot of questions, all designed to help a person reach the right conclusion, or the truth.

A Critique of a Pb Statement of Faith

The web page for Franklin Primitive Baptist Church or Thompson Memorial Primitive Baptist Church (see here), the church founded by father, there are these three statements of faith.

"The Primitive Baptists believe that if you have a fear of God and are mournful over your sins that you are showing evidence that God has already done something for you that is wonderful…being born again!"

This is what father believed, after he fell into Hardshell errors. It is also what most modern "Primitive Baptists" profess to believe. However, it is not the belief of the oldest Baptist churches nor is it biblical. I have written on this subject extensively, showing how heretical and harmful it is. See these postings:

On Conviction I
On Conviction II
On Conviction III
Wilson Thompson on Conviction
What Do You Say?
Hardshells Make The Spirit A Liar

On whether fear of God is in itself an evidence of rebirth, see these postings:

Hardshell Proof Texts X
The Gospel...
Fearing God

Next, the web page says:

"Many people teach that you have to accept the gift of eternal life, in order to make the atonement of Jesus Christ effective. We’re here to tell you that the gift of eternal life was already chosen, before the foundation of the world, for a great multitude of people. (Eph 1:4-6)"

I also have written much against the ideas put forth in these words. See these postings:

Hardshell Prayers
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells V
Saved By Faith?
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells VI
Hermeneutical Problems For Hardshells III
Demolishing Hardshell Reasoning

The idea that one can "have" eternal life without having "received" or "accepted" it! Absurd! The idea that men who reject eternal life have it any way! Universalism!

Next, the web page says:

"Eternal Salvation is a gift from God, not of man and certainly not of works. If you have to believe the gospel in order to be saved, that is a work! Believing and accepting that Jesus Christ died for your sins, is a work. Only Gods grace, delivered by the Holy Spirit, can save the dead sinner and bring him/her to spiritual life. (Eph 2:8-10)"

What a false dilemma is set up here! Faith is works! Salvation is not by faith for by grace excludes by faith! In response to this false proposition, see these postings:

Hardshell Presuppositions
Oliphant vs Pence

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Thoughts About Father

My father, Eddie K. Garrett Sr., passed away about a year and a half ago and I have thought of him many times. The Lord willing, I will meet him again in the third heaven. I have written some already about father, and my relationship with him. I have spoken of the things that we agreed upon as well as those we did not agree on. In this posting, I want to share some additional thoughts about him.

Father was firmly dedicated to his Christian faith. I am so glad that he was. I know he is in heaven because he was a "true believer" in the Bible, and in what it taught about God and about the world he created. Father did not miss going to church. In about sixty years of going to church I think he missed Sunday service one time, when he had open heart surgery. Bible study, praying, evangelizing, and other such Christian practices, were habit for father. They were not hobbies and sidelines.

When I think of the words that best describe father's Christian faith, his beliefs and practices, yea, his "spirit," these come first to mind: dogmatic, staunch, strict, intolerant, firm, resolute, unwavering, unmoved, uncompromising, hard-shell, stubborn, persevering, resilient, bold. I think of these words and I study them. I think - why did I not include love, mercy, gentleness, meekness, goodness, kindness, tolerance, etc., in the list? Did father not show these qualities? Yes, he did. Stories flood my mind when I think of the many times father exhibited those qualities and spirit. Father could be a lamb as well as a lion.

Father was at one time a believer in the very doctrines that I now hold dear. It was not till he converted to Hardshellism in the mid 60s that he began to seriously alter his beliefs on several important areas of bible doctrine. I have often considered how things would have been different for both him and me had he remained a sovereign grace missionary Baptist. I have also often thought about the reasons why father forsook the truth he once believed in order to embrace Hardshell heresies. Here are some of my responses to these questions.

Had father remained with the real primitive Baptists, the old time predestinarian Baptists, what would have been the results for his ministerial labors and for his religious beliefs?

Had father remained a sovereign grace Missionary Baptist

Positives

1. He would have been spared becoming a member of a cult.
2. He would have been kept from the "damnable heresies" of the Hardshells.
3. He would have been instrumental in the salvation of many more souls.
4. He would have experienced greater Christian growth.
5. The church he founded and pastored would have grown larger in number.
6. He would have preached the gospel to sinners.
7. He would have been spared all the trouble that came to him by the leaders of the cult.
8. His preaching would have been more Christ centered than church centered.
9. He would have been happier.
10. He would have been more gentle and forbearing.

Negatives

1. He would not have preached as much among churches other than his own.
2. He would not have enjoyed as much praise and recognition among the Missionary churches.
3. His standing among his brethren would have been less, having more competition for position.

I have stated in my book on the Hardshells how that I believe that father was attracted to the cult because he felt like he would be more utilized among the Hardshells. I think he saw how elder Bradley was welcomed and given numerous opportunities to preach and desired the same. He saw his entrance into the Hardshell cult as a way for him to enlarge his labors, which were geared more to debating and apologetics than to soul winning.

Had father remained a Missionary Baptist, then it would have affected my life. I would not have become a Hardshell. I would not have married my first wife (who was a Hardshell). I would perhaps have gone to seminary, become a Missionary Baptist preacher, and then who knows how many other things would have been different?

Father believed in the five points of Calvinism as a Missionary Baptist. I would have embraced that just as I did as a Hardshell. Father believed in the perseverance of the saints as I do now. Father believed that regeneration and conversion occurred together, and that the preached word was the means, as I do now. Father also believed in the predestination of all things as I do now.

I remember listening to the debate that father had with Howard See of the "Church of Christ" back in the mid sixties, a year or so before he converted to Hardshellism. That debate was excellent! He preached and ably defended the very truths that I now hold dear, and are the very truths that the real "Primitive Baptists" have historically confessed. I use to ask father to send me that old debate (an old reel to reel) but he never would let me have it after I left the PBs!

I love my father and forgive him for having taught me errors in doctrine. He is in heaven and now holds to no errors. I rejoice in the great truths he did not turn away from but I will always regret his choice to join the Hardshells.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Problem in Interpretation

"But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolator, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." (I Cor. 5: 11 KJV)

Many years ago I had great difficulty in regard to this passage. In a church in which I was a member we had a man and wife who were members and one of them (the wife) came under the condemnation of the church and the church was forced to deal with her after the manner prescribed by the apostle in the above passage. Each member of the church was forbidden "to eat" with that censured member, or to have fellowship with her. The problem? Was this to be done by the woman's husband? If it was, then was he forbidden to eat with his wife? To have fellowship with her? Some in the church thought that the husband was to obey the apostolic command. Others thought that it was not applicable to the husband, for if it was, then the husband doing so would mean that the husband could no longer obey the scripture's teaching on how a husband should treat his wife.

The issue becomes even more acute when the woman is excluded. The members of the church are to shun such a person and not to have any dealings with that member. But, how could the woman's husband obey such a command without violating his marital vows?

I concluded, though not without some struggles, that the husband could not refuse to eat with his excluded wife. Thus, the rule had an exception. The members should shun the woman, not eat with her, etc., but this could not be the case with the husband.

Some others disagreed, thinking that the woman's exclusion actually gave the man the right to divorce his wife. What think ye?