Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Gospel - The Means of Grace X

Quickened By The Gospel

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." (Eph. 2: 1)

The word "quickened" is not in the original text. But, it is implied. In Ephesians 1: 20 Paul spoke of the quickening of Christ from the dead - "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised (quickened) him from the dead." So, when Paul says "and you has he quickened" he means "and you also has he quickened." Peter said that Christ was "quickened" from death "by the Spirit." (I Peter 3: 18)

This quickening of the soul is a work of the Holy Spirit through the instrumentality of the word of God. So testified David, who said:

"This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me." (Psalm 119: 50)

When David testified that he had been "quickened" by the word of God, he did not exclude the Holy Spirit. Likewise, when men are said to be quickened from spiritual death, by the Holy Spirit, the word of God is not excluded. Men are quickened by God's word and Spirit, just as the Old Baptist confessions affirm. Men are not quickened by the Spirit alone (Hardshellism) nor by the word alone (Campbellism).

Quickening always has to do with resurrection from death. Where there is no death there can be no quickening. Men do not quicken that which is alive. Notice these words of scripture in proof of this point.

"God, who quickeneth the dead..." (Rom. 4: 17)

"Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die." (I Cor. 15: 36)

Paul said it is foolishness to speak of quickening that which has not died, of quickening what is already alive. It is Hardshell foolishness to say that David was not talking about his spiritual resurrection, for they say he was quickened apart from God's word. They say that David only means that he was revived from lethargy and from a fainting condition. Thus, the quickening was a quickening of the living. Yet, Paul said this was foolishness. You don't quicken what is already alive.

"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life." (John 6: 63)

Jesus said that "the spirit" quickens and then identifies "the spirit" as being "the words that I speak." The words of Jesus quicken the dead. These words have the power to quicken whether spoken by Jesus himself or by those who "preach the gospel with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven." (I Peter 1: 12) The "spirit" that "giveth life" (II Cor. 3: 6) is the "spirit" of the divine revelation as contained in the new covenant gospel.

Hardshells say that the "words" of Jesus that "quicken" are the words that Jesus personally speaks to the spiritually dead and deny that the words of Jesus have such power when spoken by apostles or evangelists. But, this is contradictory of them, for they argue that the quickening (regeneration) experience is non-cognitive and on the sub-conscious level so that the person being spoken to is not aware of Christ speaking to them, and do not know what he says to them. What "words" did Christ refer to? Was it not the words of glad tidings, or of the gospel?

It was the word of God that quickened the dry dead bones in Ezekiel 37, though it was spoken by the prophet.

"Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain." (Phil. 2: 16)

What is this "word of life"? We know that the apostle John refers to Jesus as "the Word of life." (I John 1: 1) But, it is doubtful that Paul alludes to Jesus proper, but to that word that he was sent to bring to the world, the "word of this salvation." (Acts 13: 26) It is the "word of life" because the words of Jesus are spirit and life. This word is held forth to all and is the means God has chosen to bring life and salvation to dead sinners. But, even if it is allowed that Paul refers to Jesus by title in saying "word of life," his holding him forth is certainly by means of preaching.

"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." (Heb. 4: 12)

The word of God is "quick," that is, it is "living," or the "word of life," and is that which God uses to "quicken."

"Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life." (Acts 5: 20)

"Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." (John 6: 68)

Dr. Gill wrote:

"all the words of this life; all the doctrines of the Gospel; none of them are to be dropped or concealed, but to be spoken out, fully, freely, and faithfully, with all boldness and constancy; though they cannot be comprehended by reason, and are rejected by learned men, and the majority of the people; though charged with novelty and licentiousness, and attended with reproach and persecution: and these may be called, "the words of life", even of eternal life, as in Joh 6:68 because they show the nature of it, and point out the way unto it; not by the law, and obedience to that, but by Christ and his righteousness; and are the means of quickening dead sinners..." (Commentary on Acts 5: 20)

"words of eternal life: "...for so the Gospel, and the truths of it, are called, Ac 5:20; and that because the Gospel brings life and immortality to light, gives an account of eternal life; of the nature of it, that it is a glorious life, a life free from all the sorrows of the present one; a life of pleasure, and of perfect knowledge and holiness, and which will last for ever: and because it points out the way to it, that it is not by the works of the law, but by the grace of God; that it is his free gift, through Christ; and that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, or the true way to eternal life: and because it is a means of quickening dead sinners...and each of these senses carry in them a reason why souls should go to Christ, and to him only, for life and salvation." (Commentary on John 6: 63)

Elder John Clark - Means of Regeneration

The following is some interesting testimony from the famed "Mt. Carmel Old School Baptist Church Trial," held at the turn of the 20th century, but respecting a division that took place in said church around the early 1890's, and other Old School or Regular Baptist churches on the question of who was the original Old School Baptist church at Mt. Carmel church in Virginia.

The dissenting factions came to be known as the "means" and the "anti-means" factions. The "means" faction believed in means in regeneration, the necessity of faith for regeneration and complete salvation, and in perseverance, as opposed to simple preservation, and also believed in Sunday Schools, Bible classes, and missions, and in ministerial education. Both sides were five point Calvinists. Each side claimed to represent the historic Calvinistic Baptist faith. Here are some interesting exerpts from the "means" side. Notice how they cite the great Abraham Booth.

Notice, from the citations to follow, how two leading Hardshells are mentioned, Elders Purifoy and Dalton, and how the means side (Elders Burnam, McIrntoff, and Huff) affirm that Purifoy and Dalton at one time believed in "means" before they became "anti-means."

They also avow that one of the great leaders among the Hardshell founding fathers, in the 1832-1882 period, in the formative years, Elder John Clark, founder and editor, in that period, of the famous periodical, "Zion's Advocate," was a believer in gospel means. They cite material from the first issue of the paper, in 1854, where this position was taken by that leading paper, the paper that competed with the "Signs of the Times" periodical, edited by the infamous Elder Gilbert Beebe.

Beebe and Clark became leaders of two camps within the "anti-mission movement." Clark accused Beebe of Arianism and of believing in Parker's "two-seedism," of his "eternal vital union" doctrine, or the "eternal children doctrine," and Clark was generally correct in his analysis of the doctrinal views of Daniel Parker and Gilbert Beebe, and many who were supporters of Beebe and his periodical, one of the two first Hardshell Anti-Mission Baptists, the Signs of the Times.

There was a division in the 1880's within the anti-mission movement, one in which the "means" faction separated itself from the "anti-means" faction. It also took place at a time when the movement was also dividing over the question of the extent of predestination.

Excerpts from the Testimony at the Mt. Carmel Trial (1880)

Q. Did I understand you to say, Mr. Burman, that faith was necessary to regeneration?

A. It is inseparable from regeneration, Mr. Leedy. We do not say that a man must believe in order to be regenerated. We don’t say that a man must be regenerated in order to believe, but being regenerated he believes, and believing he is regenerated. They are simultaneous and inseparable.

Q. You believe that faith is necessary to salvation then?

A. Oh, yes, certainly, just as much as regeneration is.

The Trial and Decision of Mount Carmel Church-Part 1

This is interesting and revealing testimony! It is from Elder E. H. Burnam, a close associate of Elder Clark, one of Elder Clark's named associate editors of Zion's Advocate, published out of Luray, Virginia. He spoke for a large number of "Primitive" or old "Regular" Baptists who were part of the anti mission movement, and which was mostly anti Sunday Schools, anti ministerial education, anti bible and tract societies, etc., who nevertheless believed in means and in bible classes and theological education for ministers, and who believed in church sponsored missionaries. Elder Burnam claims, in this trial, that the first old Baptists believed in means in the new birth, that faith in Christ was necessary to regeneration, and that Elder Clark believed as he did. The Hardshells, who denied means, denied that the first old Baptists believed in means and denied that Elder Clark believed in means. What is the truth? Well, I believe Burnam. Why would he lie? Besides, in the following citations, McInturf himself cites from the first volumn of Zion's Advocate, from 1854, to show the Clark affirmed means. Why would Clark print the Purifoy's writing if he did not agree with it? Also, I have citations from Clark where he clearly affirmed means. But, I have also seen at least one citation where Clark seems to clearly deny means. But, since the entire writing of Clark unavailable, the citation may be questioned. The Primitive Baptist web site that gives the Clark citation, where Clark seems to deny means in regeneration, the one citing Clark has a ... after his citation. Now, I have seen Hardshells take the writings of Baptist forefathers, such as John Gill, and cite them piecemeal, out of context, and purposefully omit certain portions of paragraphs, and even sentences, with their ... , and thus distort the original author's words and intent.

Notice in the above testimony how Burnam claims that the real old Baptists did not deny the use of means in the new birth, did not put asunder the integral connection between regeneration and evangelical conversion, the necessary connection between faith in Christ and the new birth. Today's Hardshells repudiate the idea that faith in Christ, by means of gospel truth, is essential for being born again. He correctly denies the modern "Reformed" stress on regeneration preceding faith, and avers that neither faith or regeneration precede, but are concurrent, faith being an essential element of being born again. On the ordo salutis Burnam says that faith and life are inseparable and this is what the great Baptist theologians of primitive days taught.

After questioning Elder Burnam, brother McInturf, a supporter of Burnam, is questioned.

Q. Now, Mr. Mclnturff, will you be kind enough to produce those writings to which you referred?

A. Now I had noted down here a good many places for different things, I didn’t know what you were going to ask me. I was going to show you that old Brother Clarke who was the founder of Zion’s Advocate taught the same, and Dr. Gill, the great commentator, did too. And that Dr. Purifoy did the same but we have already spoken of him. On page 59 in the first volume of Zion’s Advocate, I have copied an article from it. Well, it is simply an editorial that I wrote. It is the beginning of the third number, March, 1891.

“Commenting upon Romans 1:16, he says that the gospel ‘is a means made use of by God in quickening dead sinners, enlightening blind eyes, unstopping deaf ears, softening hard hearts, and making of enemies friends’ (Vol. VIII. p. 437) Same volume; page 339, upon Acts XXVI, 18, he says ‘Now, though this is all the work of the spirit, by whom only the eyes of the understanding are enlightened; yet this is ascribed to the apostle, not as the efficient cause, but as the instrument and means, through preaching of the gospel, which the spirit of God would, and did, make use of.’”

Dr. Purifoy published in Zion’s Advocate in 1879 and here are his exact words taken from it. I can produce the original. Here are his exact words:

“I firmly believe that it is the duty of every gospel minister to preach repentance and remission of sins, in the name of Jesus, to all the unregenerate with whom he comes in contact in his pulpit ministrations. As he does this in the name of Jesus, realizing the utter inability of the sinner to repent until the grace of repentance is given him from on high, he has an assurance from the scriptures, that God’s word will not return unto Him void, but will accomplish that whereunto he sends it, and prosper in the thing he pleases. Thus the gospel ministry is instrumental in God’s hands, through Jesus, in raising dead sinners to newness of life---spiritual life---just as the apostles were instruments in His hands in casting out devils, healing the sick, and raising the dead.”

Q. In what respect do you differ from the “anti-means” party?

A. I think Elder McInturff in his testimony defined the difference.

Q. You adopt that then as your view?

A. Yes sir.

Q. Have you any authorities of the church or church writers showing that the use of means does not conflict with the doctrine of the church as laid down in this deed, and if you have please produce them?

A. I have, sir. I hold in my hand a copy of Booth’s works, Volume One. The title of this book is Booth’s Reign of Grace.

Mr. Downing: When was that book published?

The Witness: 1813.

The Witness: I will read from the fourth chapter, page 79,

“We have seen in the preceding chapter, that Grace presided in the eternal counsels, and reigned as an absolute sovereign in the decree of election. Let us now consider the same glorious grace, as exerting its benign influence in the regeneration and effectual calling of all that shall ever be saved. Election makes no alteration in the real state of its objects. For, as they were considered in that gracious purpose, in a sinful, dying condition, so they continue in that situation, till the energy of the Holy Spirit, and the power of evangelical truth reach their hearts. The means being decreed as well as the end, it is absolutely necessary, to accomplish the great design of election, that all the chosen, in their several generations, should be born of the Spirit and converted to Jesus; called of God, and bear his image.

“That important change which takes place in the mind and views of a sinner when converted to Christ, is frequently signified in the infallible word, by being called of God---called by grace---called by the gospel. In performing this work of heavenly mercy, the eternal Spirit is the great agent and evangelical truth the honoured instrument. Are men, in their natural state, considered as asleep in sin, and dead to God? When they are called, their minds are enlightened, and spiritual life is communicated. The Spirit of God, speaking to the conscience by the truth, quickens the dead sinner; shows him his awful state, and alarms his fears. The dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live. Awake thou that sleepest. Are they considered as having departed from God, and at a distance from him; in the way of destruction, yet afraid to return? Then the language of the gospel is, return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon you; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon. Him that cometh to me, I will in no wise cast out. Such a revelation of grace being made in the gospel, and such invitations being addressed to perishing sinners, the Spirit of truth, in effectual calling, gives them encouragement from these declarations to return to God, and enables them to look for salvation from the hand of Him against whom they have sinned, and from whom they have so deeply revolted. Such, in a general view, is the nature of that heavenly blessing which is the subject of our present inquiry .”

I am going now to introduce Mr. Benjamin Keach.

I will read a part of his exposition on the parable of the Marriage Supper from “Exposition of the Parables,” page 546.

“Therefore this compulsion only denotes the powerful argument they should use, together with those efficacious influences and operations of the Spirit, which Christ put forth with the preaching of the gospel; it being by the ministration of the word, that he makes the souls of obstinate sinners willing; they are said to compel them, whereas indeed it is Christ by them; they are but instruments in Christ’s hand in the doing of it: ‘We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us,’ 2 Cor. IV. 7. The gospel hath to do with men as rational creatures, and as such Christ is presented unto them, and arguments are used to persuade them to accept him, but because all men are naturally blind, and their wills are stubborn and obstinate, ‘ye will not come to me, that you may have life,’ John V. 40. Christ, by the preaching of the gospel, and operations of his Spirit, enlighteneth their understandings, and bows and inclines their wills. And this is that which is only meant by compelling them to come to the wedding. Neither can this seem strange to any that observe divers places of scripture, where the same word is used, it is said Christ ‘Compelled his disciples to go into a ship.’

It is true, all that believe and receive Jesus Christ are compelled; grace hath such power in it, that it doth in some sense constrain the soul, ‘the love of Christ constraineth us,’ 2 Cor. V. 15. And as the spouse says, Cant. I. 4, it draws, but how is it? Is it against the consent of the will? Is there any force put upon that noble faculty? No sure, the will acts freely, and is not denied its own proper choice, but it is overruled and persuaded by the working of the Holy Ghost, cheerfully and freely to choose accept of Jesus Christ. ‘My people shall be willing in the day of my power.’ Psa, XC, 3. Jesus Christ, as I have formerly told you, will accept of no pressed soldiers, no, no, they must be all volunteers, but naturally the will is corrupt, depraved, and wills only that which is evil, and it is averse to all things that are truly and Spiritually good and so remains, until grace, or the Holy Spirit takes away that enmity and averseness which is in it, and so makes it willing; and this is done generally by the powerful preaching of the gospel, God being pleased to accompany it with the operations of his own Spirit and divine power; and this is all, no doubt, which is meant by compelling them to come in."

(The Trial and Decision of Mount Carmel Church-Part 2)


Friday, July 29, 2011

The Gospel - The Means of Grace IX

Forgiven By Faith

The Hardshell Baptists have great difficulty with what the scriptures teach about the "forgiveness ("remission") of sins," what is sometimes called the "parden of sin." When they read verses that speak of the forgiveness that Christ effected, by his death and resurrection, then they acknowledge that such remission is dealing with eternal salvation. Let us cite some of those passages.

"Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered." (Rom. 4: 7)

Most Hardshells will want to make this forgiveness and atonement for sin to be dealing with redemption and eternal salvation. The context, however, gives them (not us) problems in doing so, for Paul links forgiveness and justification to "faith" in God and in his plan of salvation.

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace." (Eph. 1: 7)

"In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins." (Col. 1: 14)

"For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins." (Matt. 26: 28)

These verses, dealing with forgiveness and redemption, the Hardshells have no difficulty equating with the experience of being saved for heaven, or with eternal salvation. Why? First, because they speak of that pardon of sin that results from the atoning and redemptive work of Christ. Second, because they mention no conditions of pardon, no mention of any offer of pardon, and no mention of faith and repentance.

Hardshells affirm that forgiveness/remission of sins actually occurred for all the elect when Christ offered himself to the Father. Often they limit their preaching to this aspect of forgiveness, often leaving the impression that forgiveness of sins does not occur in time when one of the elect is called and regenerated. But, when verses like Acts 5: 31 are cited, they will acknowledge that "forgiveness of sins" is also realized in time in the experience of salvation.

"Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins." (Acts 5: 31)

When "faith" is said to be "given," in a particular text, the Hardshells will want to make the "faith" to be some kind of "embryonic faith" (Sarrels) that God sovereignly and efficaciously gives to all the elect when they are regenerated. But, when "faith" is said to be the result of hearing the gospel, the Hardshells will make "faith" to be what only some few of the elect obtain, and that such faith is not the "faith of God's elect," or what is universally given in regeneration. Likewise, when "repentance" is said to be "given," in a particular text, the Hardshells will want to make the "repentance" to be some kind of "embryonic repentance" that God sovereignly and efficaciously gives to all the elect when they are regenerated. But, when "repentance" is said to be the result of hearing the gospel, the Hardshells will make "repentance" to be what only some few of the elect obtain, and that such "repentance" is not that kind of repentance given universally to all the elect in regeneration. So, in the verse in Acts that speak of the "foregiveness of sins" being what is "given" by God, Hardshells will want to make this to be the kind of forgiveness that is given in regeneration.

Thus, Hardshells cannot say that the "forgiveness of sins" is only what occurred when Christ died, but is also what occurs in the salvation experience of every elect individual.

On the other hand, when Hardshells read verses that promise forgiveness to those only who believe and repent, then he will not allow them to be speaking of the same forgiveness of sins referenced in the afore cited verses.

"And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24: 47)

In these words, Jesus associated gospel preaching with "repentance" and "remission of sins." In the preaching done by the apostles, in the Book of Acts, they linked these things also.

"Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses." (Acts 13: 38, 39)

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2: 38)

"To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." (Acts 10: 43)

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." (Acts 3: 19)

These verses clearly offer pardon of sin on the condition of faith and repentance. But, Hardshells do not believe that remission of sins is conditioned upon faith and repentance. So, what do they do with these verses?

Most of them will not accept that eternal forgiveness is conditioned upon faith and repentance in the cited verses. They believe that there are many who do not believe and repent who will nevertheless be finally forgiven. So, what do they do with the above verses, seeing they say the exact opposite of what they teach?

Some will say that the forgiveness or remission of sins is not forgiveness of sins, eternally speaking, or forgiveness before God and the law, but a "parental forgiveness," the kind given conditionally to the Lord's people, who have already been eternally saved and pardoned. This "parental forgiveness" has nothing to do with actual freedom from the penalties of the violated law. In such a view, the apostles were only addressing those who were already born again people of God, and giving them the conditions for receiving "temporal" or "parental" forgiveness. Parental forgiveness is only necessary for the removing of God's fatherly correction and punishment.

Some will say, however, that the forgiveness is that forgiveness which is necessary for final salvation, but will add words to the text to make it fit with their unscriptural premises. They will say - "that they may receive the knowledge and enjoyment of the forgiveness of sins," or something like that. They do this without realizing how they are guilty of adding to the text, of twisting and perverting it, of not being honest with the text. They use the same tactics in explaining other verses, such as Acts 26: 18, as I shall demonstrate.

There is no question but that this divine pardoning of sin is an experience of the heart, soul, mind, and conscience of sinners, of those who have come under conviction for their sins. Further, this divine pardon is divinely spoken to the criminal of the divine law through the preaching of the gospel. It is realized when the sinner believes in the work of Christ and in Christ's substitutionary death and vicarious atonement, and turns to that as his only hope, and trusts in it, and receives a hope and expectation of salvation, and a sense of pardon and cleansing in his conscience, and a peace of mind, with assurance, and receives joy in knowing that God has pardoned him for Jesus' sake.

Most Hardshells, inconsistently, will affirm that regeneration instantly causes certain changes in a man's soul, such as making a man to love what he formerly hated, and to hate what he formerly loved, and bringing conviction of sin and an awareness that one is lost and needs to be saved. In my book on the Hardshells I have shown their inconsistencies in making conviction of sin to be the immediate and automatic result of being regenerated. For instance, how can conviction of sin be part of, or an immediate result of, regeneration in the case of the infant and idiot, whom the Hardshells often speak about? Also, does not conviction of sin imply cognition and knowledge and belief?

Hardshells cannot include the experience of pardon in the experience of regeneration, nor can they even make it the immediate result of it. They do the same with "justification." They will not make the experience of justification to occur in regeneration, but believe in eternal justification, that justification was either from eternity or when Christ died on the cross. "Justification by faith," they affirm, has nothing to do with eternal justification, or being justified by the blood and grace of Christ. This is why, as I said, that they have difficulty with making the "blessing" of sins forgiven, in Romans 4, to deal with eternal forgiveness and justification, for it speaks of it as being received "by faith."

Not only are preaching the gospel, faith, repentance, and pardon all joined together in the above cited verses, but so is justification and forgiveness. Those these are distinct words and refer to different actions, nevertheless they are joined together in scripture and in the experience of salvation and redemption. There is no such creature who has been justified but not forgiven, and none who has been forgiven but not justified.

Let us ask - "what kind of remission (forgiveness) of sins" did Jesus order to be preached in his name? Eternal and judicial/legal? Or, parental and temporal? Most Hardshells will affirm that the "remission" to be announced (Luke 24: 47), in the gospel, is that which Christ secured by the shedding of his blood. Well, is this not the same forgiveness preached by the apostles, in the above cited verses, and in which they conditioned upon faith and repentance? Certainly it is, and Hardshell stubbornness to accept the divine truth is apparent.

Clearly, "forgiveness (pardon) of sin" is connected with being changed in one's heart, mind, and soul, with "repenting" and "converting." Is a man's heart, soul, and mind not changed in regeneration? Why is this change not referred to by the terms "repent" and "convert," terms that denote change? Also, clearly the pardon of sin follows the believing and repenting. For those, like the Hardshells and the "Reformed" Baptists, this order goes against their "ordo salutis." Is one regenerated before he is pardoned and justified? Can a man be regenerated but who is not justified and pardoned?

Things That Accompany Salvation

"But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak." (Hebrews 6: 9)

Obviously the apostle is talking about the experience or phenomenon of "salvation," salvation in a subjective and experiential sense, and not in its objective sense. We are persuaded of your experience of salvation. Why and how? Because, says Paul, there are "things that accompany salvation," things that are the evidence and proof of it, and we see these things present in you. "Accompany" is from the Greek word "echo," and means "to have or comprise or involve" and "to be closely joined to a person or a thing" (Strong). What are these things that are involved in the salvation experience? What things are divinely "joined" together in the saving experience?

Several things are joined together in the salvation experience. That is why several different words are used to describe the salvation experience, for the salvation experience is multifaceted.

Regeneration, renewing, new life, rebirth, new creation, justification, forgiveness, reconciliation, conversion, faith, repentance (turning), confession, revelation, enlightenment, propitiation, redemption, translation, receiving Christ and the Spirit, sanctification, washing and cleansing, incorporation into Christ, quickening, resurrected or made alive, etc., are terms denoting what occurs in the salvation experience, being things that are "involved" in it.

Some of these terms have both an objective and subjective aspect. Some emphasize the activity of God, and others the activity of the one being saved. Some are spoken in the passive voice and some in the active voice. To divorce and separate all these things into distinct experiences, separated in time, is to go against scripture, which links them together in the experience of Christian "salvation." Paul spoke of things that "accompany," or are integrally joined together in the salvation experience and no man has the right to disect them into several unrelated experiences. By Hardshell understanding, very little is "involved" in the experience of salvation, very little "accompanies salvation." That is why they have had serious difficulties in their history with the "Dalby doctrine," or "Hollow Log doctrine," or the "no change" view of "regeneration." If you divorce justification and forgivensess with "regeneration," then what do you have? If you divorce faith, repentance, and conversion, from "regeneration," then what is left?

Notice how Paul put regeneration after justification and pardon.

"And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses." (Col. 2: 13)

Clealy the "quickening" (regeneration) is what follows upon "forgiveness" and justification. It is known by theologians how Catholics confuse justification with regeneration and sanctification, and how they erroneously put sanctification and regeneration logically before justification, and how Protestants put justification before regeneration and sanctification. Kenneth Wuest, Greek scholar and bible commentator, wrote:

"In John 1: 12, justification precedes regeneration in the divine economy. Mercy is only given on the basis of justice satisfied." (Word Studies, page 41)

"Regeneration is therefore dependent upon justification, since an act of mercy in a law court can only be justly based upon the fact of the law being satisfied in the punishment of the crime committed. In human law courts this is impossible, for the prisoner cannot be punished and be set free at the same time" (pg. 92)

Those Hardshell and "Reformed" Baptists who put regeneration (and therefore sanctification also) before justification, are promoting a Catholic "ordo salutis."

Clearly Paul put justification (forgiveness) before quickening. God "quickened you," said Paul, "having (past tense) forgiven (and justified) you." Clearly too is the fact that the apostles put faith and repentance before receiving pardon of sins. "Repent" and "convert" THAT (in order that) your sins might be blotted out."

Without repentance and conversion, there is no remission of sins. To teach otherwise, as do the Hardshells, is to go against the plain teachings of scripture.

This believing, repenting, and converting are evangelical, that is, they are produced by the preaching of the gospel, or by the Spirit's application of evangelic truth to the heart, soul, and mind. That is clear from the scriptures already cited. But notice these words of Christ to Paul upon his divine commissioning. I send you, said Christ, -

"To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 18)

Why is this "forgiveness" of sins not the same forgiveness of sins mentioned throughout the new testament? Why is it not the forgiveness of sins that Jesus said he wanted preached and that resulted from his death on the cross? Anyone without a bias will see that it is the same forgiveness. Only Hardshells, who have a system of salvation and forgiveness that excludes faith, repentance, and conversion, will attempt to make the "forgiveness of sins" in the words of Christ to Paul to be something different. And why? Because they reject all human means, all preaching of the gospel, to be divinely used in the salvation experience. So, what do many of them do with this verse? Some take one route in trying to twist it, and others take another route. Some say that the word "manifestly" should be inserted in each phrase, so that Paul is not really "opening eyes," but only "manifestly" doing so. Paul is not actually "turning from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God," but only "manifestly" doing so. People are not really "receiving the forgiveness of sins," but only "manifestly" receiving them. People are not really being "sanctified by faith," and really "receiving inheritance," but only "manifestly" so. By this method of "interpretation," however, the bible can be made to say anything. Scripture warns us about "adding" to the words of scripture.

John Gill on the "Pardon of Sin"

BOOK VI: Of the Blessings of Grace, and the Doctrines of It.

First, Dr. Gill says that "pardon is included in salvation," just as I have shown and affirmed, being one of those things that "accompany salvation." He says:

"...all that a true and faithful preacher of the gospel can do is to preach remission of sins in the name of Christ; and to declare, that whoever repent of their sins, and believe in Christ, shall receive the forgiveness of them; and which declaration of theirs God abides by and confirms; and whose sins, in this sense, they remit, they are remitted (John 20:23)."

"Nor is pardon procured by faith, as the cause of it; faith does not obtain it by any virtue of its own, but receives it as obtained by the blood of Christ (Acts 10:43; 26:18)."

C. H. Spurgeon wrote:

"Nor did Peter fail, when he had enunciated the gospel, to make the personal application by prescribing its peculiar commands. Grown up among us is a school of men who say that they rightly preach the gospel to sinners when they merely deliver statements of what the gospel is, and of the result of dying unsaved, but they grow furious and talk of unsoundness if any venture to say to the sinner, "Believe," or "Repent." To this school Peter did not belong--into their secret he had never come, and with their assembly, were he alive now, he would not be joined. For, having first told his hearers of Christ, of his life and death and resurrection, he then proceeds to plunge the sword, as it were, up to the very hilt in their consciences by saying, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." There, I say, in that promiscuous crowd, gathered together by curiosity, attracted by the miracle which he had wrought, Peter felt no hesitation, and asked no question; he preached the same gospel as he would have preached to us today if he were here, and preached it in the most fervent and earnest style, preached the angles and the corners of it, and then preached the practical part of it, addressing himself with heart, and soul, and energy, to every one in that crowd, and saying, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

"And yet," say you, "and yet the apostle Peter actually says to us, 'Repent, and be converted!' That is, you tell us with one breath that these things are the gift of the Holy Spirit, and then with the next breath you read the text, 'Repent, and be converted.'" Ay, I do, I do, and thank God I have learned to do so. But you will say, "How reconcile you these two things?" I answer, it is no part of my commission to reconcile my Master's words: my commission is to preach the truth as I find it--to deliver it to you fresh from his hand. I not only believe these things to be agreeable to one another, but I think I see wherein they do agree, but I utterly despair of making the most of what is written in Scripture, and to accept it all, whether we can see the agreement of the two sets of truths or no--to accept them both because they are both revealed. With that hand I hold as firmly as any man living, that repentance and conversion are the work of the Holy Spirit, but I would sooner lose this hand, and both, than I would give up preaching that it is the duty of men to repent and to believe, and the duty of Christian ministers to say to them, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out."

Perhaps you may be aware that an attempt has been made by ingenious expositors to get rid of the force of this text. Some of our Hyper-Calvinist friends, who are so earnest against anything like exhortations and invitations, have tried by some means to disembowel this text if they could, to take something out and put something else in; they have said that the repentance to which men are here exhorted is but an outward repentance. But how is it so, when it is added, "Repent and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out"? Does a merely outward repentance bring with it the blotting out of sin? Assuredly not. The repentance to which men are here exhorted is a repentance which brings with it complete pardon--"that your sins may be blotted out." And, moreover, it seems to me to be a shocking thing to suppose that Peter and John went about preaching up a hollow, outward repentance, which would not save men. My brethren who make that remark would themselves be ashamed to preach up outward repentance. I am sure they would think they were not ministers of God at all if they preached up any merely outward virtue. It shows to what shifts they must be driven when they twist the Scriptures so horribly with so little reason. Brethren, it was a soul-saving repentance, and nothing less than that, which Peter commanded of these men. Now, let us come to the point. We tell men to repent and believe, not because we rely on any power in them to do so, for we know them to be dead in trespasses and sins; not because we depend upon any power in our earnestness or in our speech to make them do so, for we understand that our preaching is less than nothing apart from God; but because the gospel is the mysterious engine by which God converts the hearts of men, and we find that, if we speak in faith, God the Holy Ghost operates with us, and while we bid the dry bones live, the Spirit makes them live--while we tell the lame man to stand on his feet, the mysterious energy makes his ankle-bones to receive strength--while we tell the impotent man to stretch out his hand, a divine power goes with the command, and the hand is stretched out and the man is restored. The power lies not in the sinner, not in the preacher, but in the Holy Spirit, which works effectually with the gospel by divine decree, so that where the truth is preached the elect of God are quickened by it, souls are saved, and God is glorified. Go on, my dear brethren, preaching the gospel boldly, and be not afraid of the result, for, however little may be your strength, and though your eloquence may be as nought, yet God has promised to make his gospel the power to save, and so it shall be down to the world's end.

But now, our third remark shall be given with brevity, and it is this, THAT WITHOUT REPENTANCE AND CONVERSION, SIN CANNOT BE PARDONED."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Gospel - The Means of Grace VIII

Unbelievers Doomed

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ." (II Thess. 1: 8)

Will those who "know not God" be finally saved? The only ones who affirm that some will, are the Universalists and the Hardshells. This is a heterodox view, one that is heretical and cultic. It is an extreme minority view and is not scriptural. It is a novel view, not according to the "traditions" of the apostles. The salvation experience consists in coming to know God, to place faith in him, to love him. In fact, trusting and loving God implies a knowledge of God, for one cannot trust and love one he does not know. Those who do not know God are not saved, for saved people know God, the "one true and living God," the "God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." Knowing God is not simple theism, for not all who believe in "God," or "gods," are saved. James said - "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." (James 2: 19)

Hardshells speak contradictorily on this subject. Some affirm that one comes to "know" God in being saved or born again. Others affirm that the salvation experience does not give any knowledge, of God, or anything else, affirming that it is a metaphysical sub-conscious experience. It is an experience, they affirm, that only makes knowledge possible, but does not impart any knowledge. But, what do the scriptures say? What did the "Old Baptists" say?

Those Hardshells that teach that regeneration imparts knowlege, or that one comes to "know God" in the regeneration experience, are much closer to the truth of scripture and to the teachings of the old Particular Baptists than are those who deny that regeneration brings one into an intimate knowledge of God. Yet, when they affirm that this coming to "know God" does not involve knowing truth about God and his Son Jesus Christ, then they are in serious error and severely contradict themselves. How can they say, on one hand, that regeneration is a coming to know God and yet say, on the other hand, that those who worship idols, or who only know false gods, have come to "know God" in a biblical sense?

In a previous posting I cited the words of the champion Hardshell debater, C. H. Cayce, who taught that the Athenian idolaters (Acts 17), were "regenerated" before they had heard about the one true God. If salvation is defined as coming to know the one true God, and the Athenians did not know him (as Paul said - "whom you ignorantly worship" or who you are ignorant of), then they were not regenerated before they heard and believed the gospel preached by Paul. The true God was an "unknown God" to the Athenians. They did not know him, and thus were not saved.

If coming to know God is defined by Paul as being a salvation experience, then it cannot be defined as being a sub-conscious or non-cognitive experience. Those Hardshells who affirm that the salvation experience is equated with a coming to know God cannot consistently affirm that it is non-cognitive.

This same kind of contradiction exists by those Hardshells who affirm that God makes one a "believer," of some kind, in the experience of regeneration, and yet teach that he is not made a believer in the one true God, or in Jesus, or in the gospel revelation. Teaching that one is made a "believer," of this kind, in regeneration, and yet teaching that regeneration is non-cognitive, is a glaring contradiction.

"Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory (rejoice) in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD." (Jer. 9: 23, 24)

Lord God calls upon those who know him to rejoice in that knowledge. Is this knowledge given in salvation? In regeneration? Most Hardshells would say that such a knowledge of God is not given in "regeneration," although it is acquired in "conversion," the former being necessary for final salvation, but the latter not. But, here God calls upon people to rejoice in the fact that they know God, know his nature and character. We may ask the Hardshells - "Is God calling upon people to rejoice in regeneration or conversion?" What does God seem to value more? Does he value a "regeneration" that does not bring people to know him or a "conversion" where people come to know him? Which experience, by Hardshell understanding, brings more occasion for rejoicing? By Hardshell explanation, God's work of "regeneration" does not give a man reason to rejoice, but the Hardshell's own work of "conversion" gives such a reason to rejoice.

Paul affirmed that those who "know not God" are they who shall be eternally destroyed. He defined regeneration/conversion as coming to know God and spoke of those who were not converts to the gospel as those who "know not God" ("...even as the Gentiles which know not God" - I Thess. 4: 5) The "Gentiles" are the same as the "heathen," those who are ignorant of the one true and living God, and who worship false gods.

"And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein." (Acts 14: 15)

"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God." (I Thess. 1: 9)

This is what happens when a person comes to know God, when he is saved and regenerated. He turns to faith in God from faith in idols. Notice how Paul connects deliverance from the darkness and ignorance of idolatry with being converted by hearing and believing the gospel. Why is this not regeneration? If conversion is what brings a man to know God, and regeneration is also what brings a man to know God, then are they not words describing the same experience? Most Hardshells see the difficulty here and admit that "regeneration," as they explain it, does not bring a man to know the true and living God. Those that do admit that regeneration does bring one to know God have the problem of explaining the difference between regeneration and conversion.

"We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love." (I John 4: 6-8)

In this passage the apostle John speaks about those who are "born of God." He defines those who have been born of God as those who both love and know God. But, one cannot love and know without cognition. Thus, these descriptive words of the apostle uproot the Hardshell understanding of the regeneration experience. Further, John says that those who do not hear the gospel, who do not accept the message of the apostles, are "not of God." This too is contrary to Hardshell teaching for they affirm that there are many who reject the gospel and who are yet "born of God."

"Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit." (I John 4: 13)

To be given the Holy Spirit is to be saved and born again. What does the apostle say results from being given the Spirit? He says "we know" that we dwell in God, the one true and living God. Do Hardshells teach this? No, they do not, but rather teach that many who have been given the Spirit do not know God, and do not know that God dwells in them. Hardshells often talk about people who are saved or born again and yet who do not know it. But, John rejects such an idea. Those who do not know God and know that he dwells in them are those who do not possess the Spirit of God. If a man can be saved and not know it, then he can lose it and not miss it.

"Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you." (John 14: 17)

These words of Jesus are similar to those of the apostle. Jesus identifies the unsaved world by saying that they are they who have not "received" the Holy Spirit, and who do not "know" the Spirit. He affirms that those who have the Spirit with them and in them are not ignorant of the fact, as the Hardshells teach.

"I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (John 10: 14)

These words of Christ present great difficulty for Hardshellism. Jesus says that his "sheep" are they who "know" him. Jesus does not say that only some of the sheep know him, as the Hardshells teach, but that they, as a class, know him. If one does not know Jesus, then he is not one of the sheep.

"But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you...If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him." (John 10: 26, 37, 38)

Again, how does Jesus identify those who are of the class called "sheep"? Not only does he identify the "sheep" as they who hear his voice, and who know him, but are they who believe in him. Further, Jesus is preaching to those who are not sheep, who do not know and trust Christ. But, Hardshells do not believe in preaching the gospel to those who are not elect, or sheep, or born again. Further, what does Jesus admonish these to do? Does he not tell them to "believe" and to "know"? Does he not make it the "duty" of the lost to believe in Jesus and to come to a saving knowledge of him?

"But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. All that the Father giveth me shall come to me (believe in me); and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day...No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me." (John 6: 36-40, 44, 45)

These words of Jesus completely overthrow Hardshellism's teachings on salvation, and on what it means to be "born of God." In this passage, rather than using the term "sheep" to identify the elect, Jesus uses the descriptive words "all who have been given to me by the Father," or in short, we can say "the given ones." He says that "all," not just some, of the elect will "see" the Son, meaning they shall recognize him, perceive and experience him. They "all" will "come" to him, "all" will "believe" in him. All these are they who have "learned" from the Father. Hardshells have great difficulty with these words of Jesus. If they limit them to their idea of "regeneration," then they have problems. If they limit them to their idea of "conversion," then they likewise have problems.

If Jesus is strictly talking about a "regeneration" that excludes "conversion," then how do they explain the fact that Jesus describes it as including seeing and believing the Son? How can they exclude enlightenment, being taught by the Father? How do they exclude "coming to Jesus"? On the other hand, if Jesus is strictly talking about "conversion," then how do they deal with the fact that Jesus says that all the elect will be converted? Obviously, the experience Jesus is describing is not sub-conscious and non-cognitive.

"At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." (Matt. 11: 25)

"All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him." (Matt. 11: 27)

"And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 16: 17)

These verses are typically defined as talking about the salvation experience. Certainly the old Baptists of the confessions thought so. "Revelation" is an integral aspect of the salvation or new birth experience. Hardshells are divided on this point. Some think this revelation is part of the new birth, while others say it is not, but is talking about the post regeneration experience of "conversion" or "time salvation." Those who say the revelation is talking about being regenerated, cannot consistently affirm that regeneration is a sub-conscious and non-cognitive experience. Those who affirm that the revelation experience of the afore cited verses is talking about conversion, have the problem of explaining how Jesus spoke of this experience of revelation in terms of sovereign and efficacious grace, in the same manner he spoke of quickening sinners. Does the Father not reveal himself and the Lord Jesus to a sinner when he gives him spiritual life?

"And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh: for the LORD revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the LORD." (I Sam. 3: 21)

The Lord's revelation of himself to Samuel occurred at the time when the Lord called him, or spoke to him. How did this revelation take place? By the Spirit alone? Was it not by the Spirit's use of the "word of the Lord"? How does the Father reveal himself and Jesus today? Is it not through the gospel?

"And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." (Jer. 24: 7)

Is this verse not talking about the regeneration experience? Is that not when sinners are given a new heart? What kind of heart is it? Is it one that is ignorant of God? Again, knowing God is what regeneration effects.

"And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more." (Jer. 31: 34 & Heb. 8: 11)

These verses are in the context of those blessings of the new covenant, of what God has promised to do for his elect as a result of the work of Christ. They are taught to know the Lord. Saved people go out and command others to "know the Lord," and this work will continue until all on earth will know the Lord, or until the "earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea." (Isa. 11: 9; Hab. 2: 14)

"I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD." (Hosea 2: 20)

What is this "betrothing"? Did not Paul speak of it in Romans 7: 4, when he speaks of saved people being "married" to Christ? Is this experience of being betrothed and married to the Lord not regeneration? Notice that the prophet connects being betrothed to the Lord with coming to "know the Lord." Is the ministry not involved in this work? Paul said:

"For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ."

Now, in summation, it is obvious that regeneration is not something different from conversion, and that it is in regeneration/conversion that a sinner comes to revelation and enlightenment, when he comes to know God and believe in him and in Jesus, when he enters into covenant with God. These things are diametrically opposed to Hardshellism.

John Gill, that great Old Baptist, in his Body of Divinity (Book 1, Chapter 3), wrote about "saving knowledge," and wrote: (emphasis mine - SG)

"...there can be no grace without knowledge, no faith without it; the object must be known, or it cannot be rightly believed in.

"The Gentiles, who are described as such who "know not God", are also said to be "without hope", without hope and without God in the world; without hope in God and of good things from him now, and without hope of the resurrection of the dead, a future state, and enjoyment of happiness in it (1 Thess. 4:5,13), an unknown object cannot be the object of love..."

"First, let it be observed, that while men are in a natural, unregenerate, and unrenewed state, they are destitute of divine knowledge; the time before conversion is a time of ignorance; this was not only the case of the Gentile world in general, before the gospel came unto them, but is of every particular person, Jew or Gentile (Acts 17:30; 1 Pet. 1:14), all the sons and daughters of Adam are in the same circumstances..."

"Now while men are in an unrenewed state, and in such a state of darkness and blindness, they are ignorant, 1f1. Of God, 1f2. They are ignorant of Christ, of his person and offices, and of the way of life and salvation by him; as they know neither the Father nor the Son,1f3. They are ignorant of the Spirit of God; "The world seeth him not, neither knoweth him" (John 14:17)..."

"2. Secondly, in every renewed person there is a knowledge of God and of divine things; the new creature or "new man is renewed in knowledge, after the image of him that created him" (Col. 3:10). Spiritual and divine knowledge is a part of the new man, which is no other than an assemblage of grace consisting of various members, of which this is one; it is a part of the image of God and Christ enstamped upon the soul in regeneration, and which gives it a disposition godward; concerning which may be observed..."

"2a. First, the object of it, God; before conversion men know not God, but after that they know him, or rather are known of him (Gal. 4:8,9), there is a threefold knowledge of God, or a knowledge of God that is come at in a threefold way."

"2a3. There is a knowledge of God which comes by the gospel, the doctrine of grace and truth, that is by Christ, who lay in the bosom of his Father, and has declared him, his person, his nature, his grace, his mind and will to men; God has spoken by his Son, and made the largest discovery of himself by him; and makes use of the ministers of the gospel to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face or person of Christ, who is the brightness of his Father’s glory and the express image of his person: and it is of this kind of knowledge of God in Christ, that souls are made partakers, when they are renewed in the spirit of their minds; this is not a mere notional and speculative knowledge, such as the carnal Jews had, who had a form of knowledge in the law, and by breaking it dishonored God; and which some who call themselves Christians may have, who profess in words to know God, but in works deny him; who say, Lord, Lord, but do not the will of our Father in heaven: but this is a spiritual and experimental knowledge of God, such as a spiritual man has, and that from the Spirit of God as a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; and which leads men to mind and savour spiritual things. This is a knowledge which is attended with faith in God as a covenant God in Christ; it is a fiducial knowledge, such as know his name put their trust in him..."

"...a knowledge attended with such graces and fruits of righteousness may be called saving knowledge; that is, salvation is annexed unto it and follows upon it; for "this is life eternal", the beginning of it, and in which it issues (John 17:3)."

"2a3a. Every renewed soul has knowledge of God the Father."

"2a3b. Every renewed soul has knowledge of Christ the Son of God (John 17:3)..."

"2a3b4. Their knowledge of him is fiducial; they know his name, his nature, his abilities, his fulness, and suitableness, and therefore they put their trust in him, give up themselves to him, rely and lean upon him, and trust him with all they have, and for all they want, for grace here and glory hereafter."

"2a3b5. Their knowledge of him is experimental, they have their spiritual senses exercised on him; they see the Son and believe on him, see the glories of his person, the riches of his grace, the fulness of his righteousness, the efficacy of his blood, and the virtue of his atoning sacrifice; they "hear" his voice with pleasure and delight, the voice of his gospel, so as to understand it, approve of it, and distinguish it from the voice of a stranger they "feel", they handle him the word of life by faith, lay hold on him and retain him; they "taste" that the Lord is gracious, and "savour" the things which be of Christ and not of men."

"2a3b6. Their knowledge of Christ is appropriating..."

"2a3c. Every renewed soul has knowledge of the Spirit of God, the world does not know him, but truly gracious souls do..."

"2b1. The efficient cause of this knowledge is God; it is God that teacheth men knowledge, and none teaches like him; and this he teaches persons the most unlikely to learn, even such as "are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts"; that is, just weaned, who were but the other day babes and sucklings; this knowledge is from God, Father, Son and Spirit. Such as have "heard and learned of the Father, come to Christ"; that is, believe on him (John 6:45). It is the Father who knows the Son, and reveals him, as he did to Peter, and who reveals the things he hides from the wise and prudent, even unto babes; and "no man knows the Father save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him" (Matthew 11:27), he who lay in his bosom declares him, his mind and will, his love and grace; and he "gives an understanding" to "know" himself, who "is the true God and eternal life" (1 John 5:20), and the Spirit, he is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God and Christ; he searches the deep things of God, and reveals them to men; and by him they know the things that are freely given them of God (Eph. 1:17; 1 Cor. 2:10-12)."

"2b3. The instrumental cause or means is the word of God. "Faith", which sometimes goes by the name of knowledge, "comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17), that is, by the external ministration of the word, the Lord owning and blessing it. John the Baptist, the forerunner of Christ, was appointed, commissioned, and sent of God "to give knowledge of salvation to his people"; and the apostles and ministers of the gospel had the treasures of evangelical truths put into their earthen vessels, "to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ". The ministry of the word is appointed as a standing ordinance in the church, "till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God" (Luke 1:17; 2 Cor. 4:6; Eph. 4:13)."

These citations from Gill are from his Body of Divinity, from that work that Hardshells claim set forth their views on no means, Spirit alone, non-cognitive, "regeneration." Yet, these citations show how in error they are, how Gill had not changed his mind and taught something different in his Body of Divinity than in his Commentaries. They also show that Gill did not view regeneration and conversion as distinct separate experiences, or that one could be regenerated who was not, at the same time, converted.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Gospel - The Means of Grace VII

Save By Gospel Faith

"For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10: 13-17)

The scriptures teach the proposition - "no faith = no salvation."

This is contrary to the Hardshell view. Dr. (Elder) Charles Waters in Zion's Advocate (June 1890) wrote:

"Every regenerate child of Adam is saved eternally, faith or no faith. Infants and idiots must be so saved; for they cannot believe, though they must be regenerated. Faith, therefore, is not necessary to eternal salvation."

Then he wrote later in the same periodical (June 1891):

"Spiritual and eternal life may exist, then, apart from a belief in Jesus, repentance toward God, or knowledge of spiritual things, all of which are consequent upon and follow after regeneration; and it may please the Lord to remove the subject of His grace from this time state ere he has developed this spiritual growth, and rear him up beyond the river."

This position was not the original Primitive Baptist position and when it was advocated in the latter quarter of the 19th century, many Primitives objected to it, especially elders Burnam and Pence. Burnam had been an associate editor on Zion's Advocate when Elder Clark edited it. In 1890, however, Elder Clark was no longer living.

During the last quarter of the 19th century, the "ultraist" wing of the Primitive Baptist movement gained the ascendancy. It was a novel idea to affirm that faith and repentance are not required for regeneration and eternal salvation, and one so dramatically opposed to the clear teachings of scripture. Let us see what the scriptures say.

"That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." (II Thess. 2: 12)

"...he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark16: 16)

"I said therefore unto you, 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)

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (II Thess. 1: 7-9)

"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." (John 3: 36)

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: 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)

These verses could not be clearer about the fate of those who reject the gospel. The rejection of their obvious teaching, by the Hardshells, is fantastic and demonstrates their cult status. It is heresy to deny what they teach.

In defending Elder Waters assertion that faith was not required for regeneration and salvation, Elder J. R. Daily, a later editor of Zion's Advocate, wrote:

"The position of the Elder (Burnam) seems to be that the Spirit gives these graces to the unregenerate sinner, and then leaves him to exercise these gifts as a condition of his regeneration. Right here we beg leave to join issue with Elder Burnam. This is the great dividing line between us and the Arminian World and ever has been, and we enter a denial that "it was left to the last quarter of the 19th century to give birth to the notion of regeneration without faith," or rather before faith. Birth was given to that notion by divine inspiration."

Of course, Elder Daily did not state things accurately in his portrayal of the views of Elder Burnam and of those Primitive Baptists who believed in means and that faith was a requirement for being eternally saved. Elder Burnam did not believe that "graces" were given to the unregenerate with the expectation that the unregenerate must use them in order to be regenerated. What he believed was that faith and regeneration were concurrent, that one could not have one without the other. Also, Elder Daily was falsifying when he said that it was the "Arminian World" that taught that faith was connected with regeneration. Calvinists have also asserted the same. The London Confession of 1689 affirms that faith is a requirement for being saved. Dr. Gill affirmed that faith was required. Also, Daily offered no proof that the Hardshell view was not a novelty. He only denied it, affirming that the scriptures teach it. Of course, he is clearly in error on this. The bible does not teach that unbelievers will be saved, as the scriptures I have cited demonstrate.

Further, Burnam did not accept the Arminian teaching concerning "prevenient grace," as Daily implied. Burnam, like the real old Baptists, did believe that there was grace that preceded regeneration, that there was preparatory work that often preceded it.

Daily wrote:

"We wish it understood that what Elder Waters stated in those articles is still the doctrine of Zion's Advocate and we pledge ourselves ready to stand by it."

It may have become the view of the editors of Zion's Advocate after the death of Elder Clark, but it was not the view of it from 1854-1890, during the lifetime of Elder Clark.

Daily wrote:

"Elder Burnam then says, "In the first place, the Holy Scriptures in the clearest manner show that faith in God is essential to spiritual or eternal life," and refers to a number of passages as negative and affirmative proof, not a single one of which says or implies that "faith is essential to eternal life."

I don't know what particular verses were cited by Elder Burnam, but it must have included some of the verses I have cited. Daily can deny that they teach that faith is a requirement of salvation, but he is just stubbornly refusing to confess the obvious, and is intent on twisting their meaning to conform with his proposition, which proposition denies that faith is necessary for salvation.

Daily wrote:

"Elder Burnam does not show, nor can he show, that any one passage in the Bible teaches that one must believe in order to receive eternal life. It is not enough to say they are associated in regeneration, for if belief is to be exercised in order to the work of regeneration, as the Eld. asserts in the beginning of his article, and faith and eternal life are given at the same time, then it follows that one has eternal life before he is regenerated."

"It is not enough to say they are associated in regeneration"? Why is that not enough?

Besides, there are numerous verses that affirm that faith is a means for eternal life, some of which have already been cited. But, notice these:

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." (John 20: 31)

"He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1: 11-13)

Elder Daily is arguing for a strict chronological order in which regeneration precedes faith. But, the scriptures do not insist on this order, as the scriptures cited demonstrate.

See here for Daily's words

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).

Spurgeon's predecessor, John Gill, in commenting upon Romans 10, wrote:

"...there can be no true calling upon God without faith, no faith without hearing, no hearing without preaching, and no preaching without a divine mission."

Elder T. S. Dalton, years later, after Elder Waters and Daily promoted the view that faith was not required for eternal life and salvation, testified in the famous Mt. Carmel church trial. He was asked this interrogative: "You believe that God given faith is essential to the salvation of God's people, do you not?"

Elder Dalton answered:

"I will say this, that there is a belief produced through the preaching of the Gospel and there is a belief of the sacred truth of God; but that belief which is produced through the preaching of the Gospel is not a necessary adjunct in the eternal salvation of the sinner. But there is a faith that is implanted by the Spirit of God in the soul of every man that will ever enter Heaven, and no man will ever go to Heaven without that Divine eternal faith by the Spirit of God." (See this also in "Faith," from "Studies in Bible Doctrine," page 6 - emphasis mine)

Paul says that "faith comes by hearing" and that faith is necessary to be eternally saved. So, how do the Hardshell cultists handle this? They say that there are two kinds of "faith," one kind that comes by the preaching of the gospel, and another kind that comes without it. One kind of faith is necessary to eternal salvation and another kind is not necessary. One kind of faith can be possessed by infants in the womb and by the mentally incompetent, but another is possessed only by adults who are mentally competent. All this is, of course, a perverting of the teachings of scripture. Paul does not say that a certain kind of faith is produced by the gospel, but "faith." To say that some faith comes apart from preaching is to deny the plain teaching of Paul.

My dad, a leading Hardshell preacher and apologist, wrote:

"First, let me say that I believe all those dying in infancy are of the elect of God. God implants a faith in these infants as he did John the Baptist. See Luke 1:15 and 1:44."

”All of these verses prove that there is a faith that is implanted in us supernaturally when we are regenerated. No one will go to heaven without this faith. The preacher has nothing to do with this faith.”

What kind of faith is it that comes apart from knowledge of the truth? What kind of faith is it that does not know or believe anything? Where is the scriptural warrant for such an interpretation? Is it not an invention of those who refuse to believe what God has declared? If the Hardshells want to say that John the Baptist had the kind of "faith" that did not come through a knowledge of the gospel truth, why did John the Baptist "leap for joy" when the gospel was preached? According to Hardshells, the Athenian idolaters, while still in their heathen idolatry, had this kind of "faith"!

Scriptures on the utility and necessity of faith for salvation

"And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith." (Acts 15: 9)

"...which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26: 18)

"But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus...Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law." (Romans 3: 21-26, 28)

"For the promise, that he should be the heir of the world, was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith. For if they which are of the law be heirs, faith is made void, and the promise made of none effect...Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace; to the end the promise might be sure to all the seed; not to that only which is of the law, but to that also which is of the faith of Abraham; who is the father of us all." (Romans 4: 13, 14, 19))

"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." (Romans 5: 1, 2)

"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." (Gal. 2: 16)

"This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?" (Gal. 3: 2)

"Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham...That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith...But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Gal. 3: 7-9, 14, 22)

"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus." (Gal. 3: 26)

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God." (Eph. 2: 8)

"And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." (Phil. 3: 9)

"the faith of God's elect." (Titus 1: 11)

"Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls." (I Peter 1: 9)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Means" Hymn #1

It probably goes without saying that inconsistencies exist between what some professed Christians sing and what they actually believe. The greatest example would be that of 'Amazing Grace'. Multitudes of souls sing this wonderful hymn but yet profess a works system for salvation, and therefore do not truly agree with the contained message of salvation by grace alone.

When I was among the Primitives I noticed how this was especially true, as some of the hymns sung were contrary to the doctrine being taught from the pulpit. An anti-means theology is preached, but a means theology would often be sung! The words to many songs contain concepts, phrases, and doctrinal points peculiar to Calvinistic theology, and which therefore are not believed. Nevertheless, they are still sung with no apparent objections. I used to wonder if any others recognized this, and if there would be any attempt in the future to correct it.

In my previous posting, in order to demonstrate the inconsistency between the anti-means or time salvation paradigm with some of the more popular hymns which are sung, I asked this question:

Is it hypocritical to sing the following words 'I Know Whom I Have Believed' in the song service?

"I know not how this saving faith
To me He did impart,
Nor how believing in His Word
Wrought peace within my heart.
I know not how the Spirit moves,
Convincing men of sin,
Revealing Jesus thru the Word,
Creating faith in him."

For anyone who is aware of the anti-means theology declared by today's extremists, you can easily see how it would be utterly inconsistent to sing such words as this and yet teach a doctrine which denies it. There are three major things in the verse which are not compatible with the time salvation paradigm advocated today. First, the very mention of saving faith. This is a doctrine commonly found in Calvinistic circles and is used to convey the truth that not all faith is saving, and that some men make a mental assent to Christ and His Word, but yet are not saved. Today's ultraists have a very difficult time with the subject of faith, many of whom would not be caught dead using the expression saving faith. To some of the more extreme ones, there is no such thing, as no faith of any kind is essential for salvation. Still others might possibly use the term, but only if it is understood that seed faith, or subconscious faith, is what constitutes saving faith. If the idea were pressed, however, that faith is set forth in the scriptures as cognitive, and that THIS is what is essential for salvation, then there is no way such an expression would ever be condoned.

Second, the hymnist declares that this saving faith comes by means of the Word. This is the kicker! It's so blatantly obvious in the verses that it's a wonder that an anti-means advocate could sing it and be honest with himself. The hymnist mentions two things: 1) believing in His Word, and 2) Revealing Jesus thru the Word. But believing in God's Word does not constitute saving faith according to our modernists today. Rather, it will simply usher in an optional gospel faith connected to a temporal salvation. Nor will it be believed Christ is revealed 'thru the Word'.

Third, this same faith is recognized as a creative act of God. If they are being consistent with their own paradigm, today's extremists must deny this as well. Since gospel instrumentality is mentioned, their premise that no means are involved in eternal matters would be violated. It is quite clear to the hymnist, however, that created faith, gospel faith, and saving faith are all phrases which denote the same thing.

'I Know Whom I Have Believed' is a "Means" hymn, obviously written by one who agreed with the same. As a result, it is entirely strange to sing it when something entirely different is declared in the pulpit. The very words which come forth as the fruit of the lips must therefore, in this case, be denied. As Brother Garrett has often stated in his writings...'Consistency, thou art a jewel!'

No exception here!


1) Is there such a thing as saving faith?

2) Is saving faith created by God?

3) Does saving faith come thru the Word?

4) Is Jesus revealed thru the Word?

5) Does the Spirit of God convince of sin? For all the elect, or some only?