Friday, December 28, 2012

Selective Publishing

Quite some time ago I wrote an article entitled Getting It To the People in which I expressed my desire to see the writings of the 19th century Primitive Baptists make it into the hands of the people.  This is something that needs to be done for the benefit of current members, prospective members, and sadly, ordained elders.   As a young minister among them I was never told about some of the earlier works which, if read, will show an important difference between then and now.  I can only now lament at the number who probably have little to no idea of the existence of these writings.
Thankfully I have been blessed in the past two years to share some of these older works I have come to treasure with those who are willing to listen.  Just the other day I received a phone call from such a one, who received in the mail a small pamphlet entitled “Getting Books To Our Preachers” by Elder Harold Hunt.  In this, the elder expresses his desire to see certain works republished and distributed. Unfortunately, the ones in mind are those of his own choosing.
He writes (emphasis mine - KF):
“I have made the point many times that, over the years, our Primitive Baptists have produced some of the most capable, edifying and doctrinally sound writers the Lord’s church has ever known.  Men like John R. Daily, Lemuel Potter, J.S. Newman, and Claud Cayce are far more dependable than any of the most popular writers we find in the book stores.  It has been a passion of mine to republish as many of those books as I possibly can, and we have succeeded in getting quite a few of them back in print.  There are others I still intend to republish.”
Coming from one who has been brought to know that there has been an evolving of doctrine in the past 200 years or so, I know the observation which needs to be made here.  It’s tough for folks to know what is out there, and the truth of their own history, when one of their leading distributors exerts his bias and gets to select and choose what arrives into the mailbox.  I can almost guarantee that no works will be re-published except for those written towards the end of the 19th century and forward. Daily, Potter, Newman, and Cayce were all cut from the same conditional cloth and exerted their influence in the mid to late 1800s. Arriving into the mailboxes of many will therefore be more writings serving to propagate and further ingrain the people into what these particular men taught with no mention made of those leaders prior to this time.
Why not go back a little further and recirculate the 1777 Kehukee Association Articles of Faith, and show how they believed the elect would all be converted and subsequently persevere in holiness?
Why not republish William Fristoe’s History of the Ketocton Association and let the people read how they were “Means” Baptists?
Or distribute into the homes of many a copy of Elder John Watson’s The Old Baptist Test?
It would even be nice to see the Black Rock Address re-circulated with emphasis upon how the "means” passages of 2 Thes. 2:13-14 and 1 Cor. 1:21 were handled, and that the current generation is not even in line with their own celebrated epoch.  Were these texts applied eternally or temporally?
To this list could be added a number of elders (Beebe, Trott, Thompson, Conrad, etc.) whose writings are still extant.
Contained as well in his pamphlet, Hunt takes note of the present controversy among his brethren:
“We have just come through a painful fight over Calvinism and the London Confession.  Most of that conflict came from the fact that many of our preachers are better acquainted with writers like Arthur Pink, Charles Spurgeon, John MacArthur, and David Jeremiah, than they are with our own great writers.”
I would like to think that the preachers acquainted with these writers came to their position not exclusively from these men, but from the Bible itself.  They then came to see that what these writers were teaching was in agreement with the scriptures.  Atleast that’s the way it was with me.  But I have heard this charge in my own case.  Many times.  I have read the works of Pink, Spurgeon, Gill, Owen, etc. for many years.  However, I knew enough at the time to know where the point of distinction lied.  I knew what to keep and what to place in the garbage (I speak according to my former opinion).  Though Hunt will say later that “You can talk all you want to about eating the chicken and throwing away the bone; after awhile that bone will stick in your throat…”, I reply that if a person keeps focus in his mind to allow proper hermeneutics to dictate his Bible interpretation, he can do it.  Coming to a position similar to what these giants of the past saw is a simple matter of biblical exegesis.
Does our own “great writers” include John Watson, John Clark, John Leland, David Bartley, Gregg Thompson, etc.?  If not, why not?  Does it include only those who lived in the latter half of the 19th century and since who imbibe certain anti-means preconceptions?
One thing for sure.  You SHALL be able to read of these other writers and their works here on this blog.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

From the Signs of the Times Volume 67 – Hite's Letter

Recorded in the first issue of volume 67 of the Signs of the Times periodical, published in 1898, is a letter written by George Hite to his father.  Here are a couple of quotes followed by points important to see.

May this be of help to some.

Hite wrote:

It seems to me that the dear Old Baptists are going wild, some of them at least. The Scriptures certainly do not sustain some views now advanced. The old London confession of faith, the oldest we have, does not accord with some of the notions now held by our brethren. One of the Old Baptists who spoke as the Lord moved him, said, ‘Lord turn me, and I shall be turned, draw me, and I will run after thee.’ David, a man after God’s own heart, said, ‘Lord restore the joys of thy salvation.’ Paul said, ‘The things I would do, I do not, and the things I would not, them I do.’ So you see if the modern idea of receiving God’s blessings be true, Paul would not have been blessed at all. But Paul preached a better and sure way of receiving blessing. He said to the church, and the faithful in Christ Jesus, at Ephesus, ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ, according as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world.’ So you see the blessings in this life, as well as salvation in heaven, are according to God’s choice, and not ours.”

IMPORTANT POINTS:

1) The reference that the Old Baptists “were going wild” shows that the time period was a tumultuous one.

2) The scriptures do not support some of the modern views being advanced.

3) The 1689 LCF is endorsed as being the confession of the Old Baptists, and it does not support these views.

4) All spiritual blessings are given by grace, and none left to be obtained by free-will.

Hite wrote:

There is but one salvation for us, and it is manifested in time, and continues throughout all eternity. Paul said to Timothy, ‘Take heed to thyself, and to the doctrine, continue in them, for in so doing thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.’ He was there contrasting sound doctrine with the false, from which they were by Paul exhorted to keep aloof. But you know that it is by grace that one knows the truth. Paul, as you will remember, once said, contrasting his labor with the labor of the other apostles, ‘I labored more abundantly than they all. Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.’ So you see that Paul was not a so called ‘time salvation’, for they labor to obtain the blessings, while Paul was blessed with grace which enabled him to labor more than the other apostles. You see, father, that it is by faith, that it might be by grace. That is to say, it is by grace from start to finish. It is through the gift of grace that one is enabled to believe, and what is not of faith is sin. Therefore any of our work which does not come through faith by grace, is sin. Grace, as you know, is the gift of God, which enables us to believe and act. Hence our good works come from God, as a gift of grace. In fact it is really God, or Christ in us, who does the good works.”

IMPORTANT POINTS:

1) One unbroken salvation is declared.

2) Paul was no advocate of time salvation.

3) Grace from start to finish. From regeneration to glorification, with no optional interlude for a “second” free-will based salvation.

4) Grace from start to finish, yet nevertheless it is "by faith".

5) Good works are of the Lord.

Signs of the Times Volume 67

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Lesson From the Prince

If I had to pinpoint the one sermon which was the most helpful in rescuing me from my non-exhortative, discriminatory, "only to those already saved" style of gospel preaching it would be that from none other than the Prince of Preachers himself:

"If I am to preach faith in Christ to a man who is regenerated, then the man, being regenerated, is saved already, and it is an unnecessary and ridiculous thing for me to preach Christ to him, and bid him to believe in order to be saved when he is saved already, being regenerate. But you will tell me that I ought to preach it only to those who repent of their sins. Very well; but since true repentance of sin is the work of the Spirit, any man who has repentance is most certainly saved, because evangelical repentance never can exist in an unrenewed soul. Where there is repentance there is faith already, for they never can be separated. So, then, I am only to preach faith to those who have it. Absurd, indeed! Is not this waiting till the man is cured and then bringing him the medicine? This is preaching Christ to the righteous and not to sinners. 'Nay,' saith one, 'but we mean that a man must have some good desires towards Christ before he has any warrant to believe in Jesus. Friend, do you not know what all good desires have some degree of holiness in them? But if a sinner hath any degree of true holiness in him it must be the work of the Spirit, for true holiness never exists in the carnal mind, therefore, that man is already renewed, and therefore saved. Are we to go running up and down the world, proclaiming life to the living, casting bread to those who are fed already, and holding up Christ on the pole of the gospel to those who are already healed? My brethren, where is our inducement to labour where our efforts are so little needed? If I am to preach Christ to those who have no goodness, who have nothing in them that qualifies them for mercy, then I feel I have a gospel so divine that I would proclaim it with my last breath, crying aloud, that Jesus came into the world to save sinners'—sinners as sinners, not as penitent sinners or as awakened sinners, but sinners as sinners, sinners 'of whom I am chief.'

Secondly, to tell the sinner that he is to believe on Christ because of some warrant in himself, is legal, I dare to say it—legal. Though this method is generally adopted by the higher school of Calvinists, they are herein unsound, uncalvinistic, and legal; it is strange that they who are so bold defenders of free grace should make common cause with Baxterians and Pelagians. I lay it down to he legal for this reason: if I believe in Jesus Christ because I feel a genuine repentance of sin, and therefore have a warrant for my faith, do you not perceive that the first and true ground of my confidence is the fact that I have repented of sin? If I believe in Jesus because I have convictions and a spirit of prayer, then evidently the first and the most important fact is not Christ, but my possession of repentance, conviction, and prayer, so that really my hope hinges upon my having repented; and if this be not legal I do not know what is. Put it lower. My opponents will say, 'The sinner must have an awakened conscience before he is warranted to believe on Christ.' Well, then, if I trust Christ to save me because I have an awakened conscience, I say again, the most important part of the whole transaction is the alarm of my conscience, and my real trust hangs there. If I lean on Christ because I feel this and that, then I am leaning on my feelings and not on Christ alone, and this is legal indeed. Nay, even if desires after Christ are to be my warrant for believing, if I am to believe in Jesus not because he bids me, but because I feel some desires after him, you will again with half an eye perceive that the most important source of my comfort must be my own desires. So that we shall be always looking within. 'Do I really desire? If I do, then Christ can save me; if I do not, then he cannot.' And so my desire overrides Christ and his grace. Away with such' legality from the earth!"

http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0531.htm

A great sense of freedom comes when one, formerly opposed to preaching without discrimination, finally understands that the sovereignty of God is no hindrance for preaching the gospel in its fullness to all who will hear.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Riner's Response

In the February 2010 issue of The Banner Herald Elder Scott Riner wrote a very good article entitled "The Old Paths - An Historical Response". It basically served as a return volley to the charge of modernism made upon those of the Progressive faction of the Primitive Baptists. It was a delight to read, and though outside of our present scope to relay it all, there are many things stated with which I agree. At the beginning reference is made to the importance of returning to the old paths in our worship. Yet before one does so, he of course must know what they are. As he says...

"But, this also begs the question, 'What have Primitive Baptists always believed historically?' I say that for the simple reason that often it depends upon how far back one goes to either define or defend their understanding of 'old paths'."

Bingo!

He writes again:

"There are several teachings that are often presented as 'orthodox' doctrine, along with the assertion that Primitive Baptists have always believed these things. However, original source documentation demonstrates that this is simply not the case."

Bingo number two!

Riner calls to remembrance Elder Sylvester Hassell's 1892 article New Theories and, in his own words, summarizes some of the innovations that the elder and historian noticed while on a 72-day preaching trip:

"Some of the 'innovative' interpretations include: 1) the denial of any real fundamental change made in individuals by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, 2) labeling all of the grounds in the parable of the Sower, the five foolish virgins, persons represented by the dog and the swine, the idolatrous as "children of God," 3) the only purpose of preaching is to comfort the people of God, and 4) the limiting of scriptural references which up to this point were said to be referring to eternal heaven, now believed to be speaking of only a present spiritual enjoyment of the believer here in time."

These interpretations are simply the fruits of conditionalism and its stripping down of salvation to be a more or less empty experience in many cases. If there indeed exists a desire to return to the "old paths", the first question must be what they are.

For its answer, the London Confession would be a good start.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Avoiding Perseverance

Not long ago I made a couple of postings on the saints' perseverance, one referencing goods views on the subject, and the other bad.  The other day I received the comments of a local made upon Hebrews 3:5, with emphasis upon the expression "firm unto the end". It reads:
                                                  Hebrews 3:5
 
                                            "firm unto the end”

 “And Moses verily was faithful in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

"Many of the Hebrews in that day held to the Old Testament law service and revered 'Moses', but they rejected the Church of Jesus Christ. They neglected to see that while 'Moses' 'was faithful' 'as a servant' 'Christ' was and is 'as a son over his own house'. That is, while 'Moses' was a 'faithful' 'servant'; 'Christ' is the Master, Lord, King, and High Priest over His own House. In this case, 'his own house' refers to the Church here on earth, which is our 'house' on earth until we are called into the eternal 'mansions' (John 14:2) in Heaven. The Jews in the Old Testament and many in the New Testament did not hold 'firm unto the end' and they lost their privileged to the 'house of God' (I Chronicles 36:19). In both the Old and New Testaments, invading armies came and destroyed them because they did not 'hold' 'firm unto the end'. The message to us is, 'if we' do not 'hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end' we can lose our privilege to the 'house of God'; that is, as the Lord warned the Jews, 'The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.' (Matthew 21:43). When the 'kingdom of God' is 'taken from' 'a nation'; that 'nation' falls into awful ruin. Therefore, let us pray that, in our day and in our nation, the Children of God will faithfully 'hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end'!
(J.C. Stanaland, Notes from the Pastor's Trumpet)

These comments are an example of how conditional time salvation is used to avoid the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.  Seeing the "condition" that occurs in the passage, the text is construed to say that the blessing and judgment under consideration must be one of a temporal nature which, of course, does not affect one's eternal standing with God.  Men may be finally saved, and yet not "hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end".  Consequently, the house of Christ is explained to be the Church here on Earth.  Being familiar with such argumentation, I know that the purpose for stating this is to convince the reader that this is something which only applies "while we live here", as the cliche runs.  Combine this with Landmarkism and misapplied amillennialism, which often accompany this false teaching, and unfortunately this interpretation will be readily received by not a few.

This passage ought to be compared with verse 14.  This will show that matters of eternity are under consideration.

"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;" (3:14)

Is it not necessary to partake of Christ for salvation???

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Elder W. Thompson on the Gospel

"The gospel is sent to men as sinners, lying in the ruins of the first Adam, lost and condemned under the sentence of death; and proclaims and reveals the righteousness of Christ, as the justification of the ungodly..." (Triumph of Truth, chapter 8)

Though the Hardshells love to claim Elder Wilson Thompson as one of their leaders and founders, he did not go as far as today's Hardshells.  I have already shown in other writings how Elder Thompson believed, as did Elder Gilbert Beebe and other founders of the "Primitive Baptist" denomination, that the new birth was experienced in being converted by the Gospel.  He certainly did not believe that the Gospel was sent to only the elect or to those who were already born again.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Old Baptist Confessions

R. L. Vaughn of "Ministry and Musis - Seeking The Old Paths" has posted links to two old Baptist confessions of faith for early 19th century associations in western Tennessee.  (see here)  One of these is the Forked Deer Association.  This association continued with a Hardshell faction until recent years when it was disbanded.  In my younger days as an Elder in the "Primitive Baptist Church" I visited churches in this association.  I want to copy some of the articles of faith of this association for the year 1825 and ask whether today's Hardshells are in agreement with them.

"Art. V. Although the Gospel is to be preached to all the world and sinners be called upon to repent and believe in Christ, yet such is their opposition to the Gospel plan, that they all freely choose a state of sin, rather than enjoy the blessings of eternal life. But "where sin abounded grace did much more abound," God of his mere good pleasure, "and that he might make known the riches of his glory," hath elected or chosen unto salvation in Christ, "a great multitude which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people and tongues." These by the regenerating influence of the holy spirit, are "effectually called," become dead to sin, and alive unto God, and being the subjects of repentance, faith, &c., and having the love of God shed abroad in their hearts, freely choose Christ for their Savior, and willingly devote themselves to his service by a life of holiness.   Art. VI. Those who are thus united to Christ by a living faith, have the full and free forgiveness of all their sins, & a complete justification of their persons, which favors are bestowed, not on account of any works they may have performed, or disposition they may possess, but solely on account of the merits of Christ, arising from his Suffering and death.   Art. VII. All those who are born of the spirit, and justified by the imputed righteousness of the Son of God, shall persevere unto the end, being kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation."   (emphasis mine)

More From Elder Hume

Here are a couple more citations from Elder Joel Hume from the 1863 debate.  They are further evidence of what the Hardshells believed at that time respecting evangelical faith and its relation to salvation.  (emphasis mine)

"So with every child of God, when the evidence comes before them that Jesus Christ is their Saviour, faith is irresistible. You know this is so, when you believed in the Lord Jesus; you could not help it. I do not remember how many kinds of faith there are in the Bible; there is such a theory spoken of as the faith of men and the faith of devils, as false faith, as little faith, as great faith; but the faith I have in view here, is the faith of God's elect. I inquire, who has this faith? The answer is, God's spiritual Israel possess that faith, and nobody else."  (Closing reply on 4th proposition)

"Respecting Brother Stinson's passage, "he that believeth shall be saved," the question is, how does faith come? Upon what principles do men realize faith? I read in the first chapter of Ephesians, that they believed according to the working of the mighty power of God, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead. What is the conclusion? It requires the same power to enable the sinner to believe in Jesus Christ that it requires to raise Christ from the dead."  (last speech last proposition)

Those Hardshells today who say that evangelical faith in Christ is optional to the elect, and that many of them will never become believers in Jesus, is not true Old Baptist doctrine.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Elder Hume on the Elect

Elder Joel Hume was a first generation leader among the newly created "Primitive" or "Old School" Baptist denomination.  Like many in his times, such as Elder Lemuel Potter, Hume claimed to be a "Regular Baptist."  In 1863 Elder Hume held a debate with Stinson of the General Baptist Church.  It was held in Indiana.  Here is what Elder Hume said about the Gospel being God's means in saving his elect.

 "I understand, my friends, that the Apostle is here introducing, for the instruction of his brethren, a system of salvation that embraces the finally and eternally beatified in glory--I had like to have said, the elect of God. It embraces the whole human family that ever did believe the gospel, and those are the only men that will be saved; and we maintain that they will be saved. There is no mistake; God will not be disappointed."  (Hume-Stinson Debate on the Atonement - 1863 - see here)

And again he wrote:

"Who are the elect? Why, all the family of believers. Is that the way to come it, too? All believers in Jesus Christ; every sinner upon God's earth that is born of Jesus Christ; I care not their name or color; every single believer on the Lord Jesus Christ belongs to the number. My view of the matter is this: God never intended to exhibit a plan that would result in no profit to them."

I have already shown how men like Elder James Osbourn, a leader in the "Old School" or "Primitive Baptist" antimission sect after the 1832 split from the Baptist family, believed that the Gospel was the divine means in effecting the eternal salvation of the elect.  (see here)

Thus, Elders W. T. Pence, E. H. Burnham, leaders among the Old School Regular Baptists, in the late 1870s and early 1880s, were correct when they contended that the means position was the historic teaching of the first leaders in the antimission movement.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gowens's Preface Text

Although I disagree with its message, easily the most academic attempt at defending conditional time salvation that I have read is "Temporal Salvation: A Bogus or Biblical Concept?" by Michael Gowens. There are of course many things stated which I think are an error, one of the primary ones being the text set forth at the very beginning to launch the apology.  At the head of the treatise, a portion of Galatians 1:4 is inscribed:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world...".

This is obviously meant to persuade the prospective reader that the text is supportive of this doctrinal novelty and the subsequent argument the author makes. It is cited however without the adjoining expression "according to the will of God, and our Father". This is a deceitful omission, intentional or no, for its inclusion would actually suggest that whatever salvation is under consideration is the product of God's decretive will. And any text of scripture which speaks of salvation as originating in the eternal counsel must be assigned to the category of eternal salvation, for what God decreed shall most certainly be brought to pass, and not left optional as time salvation teaches!

Is time salvation according to the will of God? If so, then why is it accomplished in but a few? If so, then how is it said in contradiction that this salvation must be obtained by free-will, in that the regenerate elect must "save themselves", per Acts 2:40? Furthermore, saying that time salvation is rooted in God's decree is to give semblance to absolutism, the very thing sought to be avoided by conditionalism!

These arguments overthrow the attempt to make Gal. 1:4 a proof text for conditional time salvation, which teaches that God has not guaranteed this particular salvation to His people. Rather, it is what He has left uncertain and contingent upon the will of regenerate sons to choose or not choose whether they want to become disciples.

Speaking of Christ, Gal. 1:4 actually reads in its entirety:

"Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world; according to the will of God, and our Father."

I suppose the reasoning is that since the deliverance is said to be from something present, that this is sufficient proof that there is such a thing as a time salvation which may or may not take place for the Lord's people.  This is a terrible error.  First, it divides asunder what God has joined together. Deliverance from the present evil world is part of what eternal salvation is!  It is an error (as time salvation does) to extract elements out of eternal salvation and make them part of another salvation.  I could say that sinners shall be delivered "from unbelief" or "from self-righteousness" or "from this present evil world" but that would simply be defining eternal salvation!   Second, it may further deceive those who have erected an unbiblical wall between time and eternity, or who are confused in thinking that the timely phase of salvation and time salvation are one and the same thing. May those so deceived come to see that eternal salvation INVOLVES being delivered from this present evil world!

As we have done in the past with our challenges to time salvation we choose to do the same here. In the light of Gal. 1:4, with the presumption that deliverance "from this present evil world" has reference of time salvation, we ask some questions with the hope that they shall be approached and answered with an honest conscience.

1) Are those for whom Christ gave himself the same as those who shall be delivered from the present evil world?

2) If they are the same and Christ gave himself for all His elect, then does this mean that all shall receive time salvation?

3) Is it true that Christ gave himself for all his elect, but shall grant time salvation to only a portion of them?

e.g. "Who gave himself for ALL, that he might save SOME of them from this present evil world"?

4) Is being delivered from this present evil world a "second" salvation or part of eternal salvation?

5) Does eternal salvation involve being delivered from this present evil world?

6) Does the expression "that he might" mean that Christ intended to render time salvation possible, or to make it certain?

7) Is it true to say that Christ might save His people from the present evil world, or that they might save themselves?

8) Is it the absolute intent of the Lord Jesus to give His people a time salvation, or something He has left contingent on the human will?

9) If the former, then why is it effected only for a remnant of God's elect?

10) Are there any blessings connected to the death of Christ that shall not certainly be given (Rom. 8:32) to those for whom he died?

11) Is the blessing of time salvation freely given as a result of Christ’s death?

12) Is time salvation the effect of Christ's work at the cross or the effect of human free-will?

13) Is the deliverance promised the inevitable effect of the redeeming work of Christ?

14) Was it the intent of Christ to accomplish an eternal salvation for all the elect, and a time salvation for the "elect within the elect"?

15) Is time salvation according to God's decretive will?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Comment from Abroad

It is the persuasion of this blog that the ‘no means’ view of salvation is an error.   We agree with the method of effectual calling as expressed in the great Confessions of Faith:

“Those whom God hath predestinated unto life, he is pleased in his appointed, and accepted time, effectually to call, by his Word and Spirit, out of that state of sin and death in which they are by nature, to grace and salvation by Jesus Christ; enlightening their minds spiritually and savingly to understand the things of God; taking away their heart of stone, and giving unto them a heart of flesh; renewing their wills, and by his almighty power determining them to that which is good, and effectually drawing them to Jesus Christ; yet so as they come most freely, being made willing by his grace.” (1689 London Confession of Faith).

It is also our conviction that the denial of this truth, a view which divorces the Word from the Spirit, is not an expression of what constitutes true Old Baptist doctrine.  The definitive statement of Elder John Watson in his notable work The Old Baptist Test perfectly expresses what I feel to be the truth in this matter; namely, that it was a modern invention.  Writing in the mid-19th century, he tells us:

 “Paul, however, does not affirm, like some of our modern innovators, that means or instrumentalities are not employed by the Lord in the divine plan of salvation; for he asks:  ‘How shall they hear without a preacher?’ Rom. x, 14”

Recently, an anonymous comment was made to fellow contributor Stephen’s posting on Sarrel’s false claim which I thought worthy of mention, as it illustrates those who still hold to the view of our Baptist forefathers.  It is most reassuring.

Our commenter writes:

“Thank you for saying this.  I believe you.  I am connected (though not in fellowship) with the Gospel Standard Churches of England (where I live) and I can tell you that amongst the particular Baptists of England (and I have been to many churches – perhaps 10) I have found no evidence that they believe at all in so called ‘no means’ regeneration.  All that I have spoken to agree adamantly that one must believe the gospel in order to be saved.”

Friday, October 19, 2012

Solemn Words from Barnard

“If an old Hell-bound sinner is ever brought to the place where he knows that he is lost, because the Holy Ghost has pricked him in the heart by the Word of God and revealed to him his sinful condition, he will beg God to have mercy on him. And when God is pleased to make him a new creature in Christ, he will be in love with the Lover of his soul and will delight to do the will of God and walk in loving obedience to Him.
“We’ve got a stuff called ‘salvation’ now that makes the death of the Lord Jesus Christ a joke, and it makes God a minister of sin, and speaks peace to men where there is no peace. It is filling Hell full of church members who believed the lies that are being preached. The only people who will bring praise and glory to Christ are those who are under the Guiding Hand and rule of Him whom God appointed and decreed to be LORD over all mankind. I say that the Gospel is a holy-making Gospel, and we do not live a holy life in order to be saved, but we live a holy life because we are saved. And when a man is justified by the blood of Christ, that is the beginning of a holy life. That’s where holy living starts and that person who is not on the road to the time when he will be like Christ is traveling on the wrong road; Christ is not his Lord. In the churches today Christ is offered to men and women as One who will keep you out of Hell and let you do as you please, but the Lord Jesus Christ of God’s Word demands holy living.
“If sin is damning its thousands, religion today is damning its tens of thousands.
“What a miracle it will be if God ever fixes you so you’ll not just attend services, but where you will begin to listen to God’s Word! I have been preaching all these years to a generation of people who seem to wish to trust in the work of Christ, but without falling in love with Him. And thus Hell is full of people who have believed a fact but were not joined to a Person. I cannot understand that type of ‘salvation.’ What does a sinner expect when he doesn’t desire to be under the rule of Christ, but continues a rebel against that rule? I cannot understand a salvation that turns out men and women who do not intend in the deep recesses of their souls to become willing bondslaves of our Lord Jesus Christ. I say to you, my friend, that church members who live in known sin, who do not pant after holiness, who have no love for Christ — I say to you, they are in mortal danger and they are on the road to Hell and know it not” (Rolfe Barnard, 1904-1969, in a great sermon on “Why Christ Died”).

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Schismatics

The recent posting by Elder Fralick made me think of all the divisiveness that was prevalent among the "Primitive Baptists" during the years that I was an elder with them.  In fact, their entire history is one of division.  They are the epitome of what is means to be  a schismatic.  Easton's Bible dictionary says:

"From a Greek word signifying (1) a choice, (2) the opinion chosen, and (3) the sect holding the opinion. In the Acts of the Apostles (5:17; 15:5; 24:5, 14; 26:5) it denotes a sect, without reference to its character. Elsewhere, however, in the New Testament it has a different meaning attached to it. Paul ranks “heresies” with crimes and seditions (Gal. 5:20). This word also denotes divisions or schisms in the church (1 Cor. 11:19). In Titus 3:10 a “heretical person” is one who follows his own self-willed “questions,” and who is to be avoided. Heresies thus came to signify self-chosen doctrines not emanating from God (2 Pet. 2:1)."  (see here)

Heretics, schismatics, are also known as sectarians

1.  of or pertaining to sectaries or sects.
2.  narrowly confined or devoted to a particular sect.
3.  narrowly confined or limited in interest, purpose, scope, etc.  (see here)

The "Primitive Baptist Church" manifests a party spirit, a characteristic of a cult.  Their history is one in which factions have multiplied, each declaring the other in disorder by their "declarations of non-fellowship."  It reminds one of the apostolic warning - "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another."  (Gal. 5: 15) 

I have thought about how I could never again be a part of such a sect.  If I chose to preach with sermon notes, I would be crucified.  If I supported Bible classes and ministerial education, I would be cast off.  If I supported musical instruments in the church, I would be viewed as a reprobate.  If I did not spend half my time talking about how I could not preach, about how unworthy I was, I would be rejected.  If I called upon sinners to repent and believe the Gospel in order to be saved, I would be esteemed the worst of heretics.  If I said anything that was not already established as "the" accepted dogma of the sect, I would be "called on the carpet." 

Hardshells, according to their own statistics, exclude more than they receive as members.  They are even fond of the adjective "strict" when applied to them.  There is very little mercy, compassion, and tolerance among them.  Again, anyone familiar with their history knows this to be true.

What is ironic about all this is the fact that they think they are the one and only "kingdom of God" on earth and that all other Christian churches are of "antichrist."  They will not cooperate with other Christians but spend all their time denouncing all others and extolling themselves.  For my own self, I am glad to be free from this cult and work and pray for others to be delivered from them.

"Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone."  (Hosea 4: 17)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Trouble in the Southeast

On Tuesday I was privileged to speak at the funeral of a very special member of my family. My uncle, born a down-syndrome baby, passed away at 58 years of age. I was blessed to conduct it along with my close friend and elder within the Primitive Baptists. I can easily say that he is one of the finest men that I know. Unfortunately, due to recent trouble here in the southeast, he is one of a handful of local elders who have been blackballed in the past month for either supporting missionary work or fellowshipping those who do. How sad.

After the internment I was able to visit with an elderly couple who, along with many others, were victims of this devastating split in which an association declared non-fellowship against five churches, two of which were not even part of it! The couple chose to remove their letter from their home church, one of the perpetrators of this declaration, and place it within one of the excluded churches. I told them that they made the right decision. If forced to choose between the two, their spiritual health will fair much better among those who are somewhat active, as opposed to those who take their talent and promptly bury it in the ground.

I was pleased to know that they were interested in learning more about my own exclusion not long ago. This of course necessarily involved relating to them what I had come to see taught both in scripture and Baptist history. Knowing quite well how far some have gone in their misapplication of unconditional salvation, I first had to acquire what was their position with respect to a very basic Bible question:

“Do you believe that God’s children will in fact know the one true God of the Bible, and believe in His Son Jesus Christ?”

The average Christian is probably shocked that such a question as this must even be asked.

The husband responded:

“There will be many people in heaven who do not know God or have heard the gospel preached.”

I was not shocked at all by the answer, for I know what they’ve been taught, probably the whole of their life. I cited some verses to the Brother which teach the very simple lesson that God’s people will know and believe in the Lord.

He remained silent.

It was not yet time to get into the matter of how the elect ordinarily come to possess this said knowledge and belief. I wanted to go very slow and teach the basic concept that salvation involves knowledge and faith, without getting into the matter of gospel influence.

His wife was listening closely and spoke up that she believed that God would reveal himself to a person if they were one of His elect. I was glad to get this response, although I wish I would have had time to explain just how it is that the elect come to know their Lord.

Regardless of the doctrinal difference between myself and this couple, they and many others like them just had their church lives drastically altered by this terrible declaration of non-fellowship by their blind leaders, all because they were members of a church which had some connection, directly or indirectly, to those who were lifting a finger in advancing the cause of Christ and His kingdom.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Old Article Revisited

One of the most accessible articles exposing the teaching of time salvation is one written by Elder David Bartley in 1905.  A simple google search is all it takes to find it.  I was pleased to see that Brother Curt Wildy, whose writings we have mentioned before, has previously posted the article in its entirety on his own blog “Look Unto the Lord”.

I have recently come across some of Elder Bartley’s other writings, which made me remember this old article I first stumbled across years ago.  Just as it was with my previous posting on Elder F.A. Chick, I wish for the interested reader to note the following things revealed by the elder in regards to this teaching:

      1)      It is of recent origin.

2)      It is an attempt to bypass the “means of salvation”.

3)      It breaks up eternal salvation into one composed on “fragments and parts”.

4)      It has caused strife.

5)      It is a “works” system.

6)      It is an attempt to explain away what some falsely see as Armininianism.

7)      It fails to understand that the timely phase of salvation is PART OF eternal salvation.

 The article may be read here:

Friday, September 14, 2012

F.A. Chick on Conditional Time Salvation

In 1899, Brother J.E. Wilkinson wrote to the editors of the Signs of the Times, and inquired into the matter of ‘time salvation’. He writes:

Now, brother Chick, do you not think there is some misunderstanding about ‘time salvation’? Please give your views upon the following scriptures: Eph. 4:1; Col. 3:1; Rom. 8:13; 12:1; Deut. 4:39-40. Does this pertain to our ‘time salvation’? If so, is it on conditions? I think it is, though I may not understand what ‘time salvation’ is. Please let me hear from you on this subject, when you have time.”

In Volume 67, issue #12, Elder F.A. Chick replied with a lengthy article in answer to the brother’s question. The charges he has against the teaching often appear here on the Old Baptist blog, so I shall refrain from making elaborate comments at this time. Instead, I summarize by simply saying that the objections the elder has are often seen by those who agree that the doctrine is an error:

1) Conditional time salvation denies absolute predestination.
2) Conditional time salvation is Arminianism.
3) Conditional time salvation disconnects time from eternity.

This is demonstrated throughout some of the excerpts from Chick’s article. I highlight those places where this is seen.

Chick wrote:

“The expression ‘time salvation’, to which our brother refers, no doubt sounds differently to some minds from what it does to others. In our view (absolutism – KF) it would involve conclusions which another might not see in it. The doctrine of unlimited predestination does not involve in the minds of those who hold to it, what it is charged with by others (conditionalism - KF). Now we would not think it right to be charged with the conclusions which proponents of the doctrine think would follow from it, and neither would we ascribe to others what they deny holding, although to our mind it seems impossible to believe the one sentiment, without believing another which seems to us to necessarily follow. Opponents of predestination say it involves a denial of the accountability of man. We do not believe this, but do believe in the sinfulness of man, and his accountability. We would resent it, were we charged with denying man’s accountability. Yet to him who opposes the doctrine, it seems that such conclusions must follow. So, it may be, that those brethren who use the term ‘time salvation’, so much, and make such a broad distinction between it, and what they call ‘eternal salvation’, may not hold such conclusions which we draw from the sentiment. Some things which have been said concerning it, have sounded to us like the Arminian idea of conditionalism, and also like claiming the possibility of perfect obedience, or sanctification in the flesh. Yet when those who use this expression deny that they mean, or that they believe any such thing, we have no right to charge this conclusion of ours, upon them, although we may with perfect propriety, charge this conclusion upon what they have said. It should be our business, if we see such a conclusion as this from their sentiment, to strive to show them that they ought to give up the sentiment, since it does indeed involve such conclusions. If we can show them that the doctrine which they advocate is susceptible to such objections, perhaps they will then forsake the sentiment itself, in abhorrence of its proper conclusions.”

Chick wrote:

“We have not felt willing to use the term ‘conditional time salvation’, because it has seemed to us to involve more than the word of God justifies. Conditions, just as far as they go, seem to exclude grace. Still further, it does not seem to us that the Scriptures make such a broad distinction between grace here below, and glory hereafter, as these words seem to imply. One has said, ‘Grace is glory begun, and glory is grace finished. The Lord will give grace and glory.’ It does not seem to us that there is such a broad distinction between salvation here, and hereafter, as this expression ‘conditional time salvation’, implies. Do not the Scriptures speak of our present salvation, as an eternal salvation? Do they not speak of it as salvation begun, but still the same as shall be bestowed, only in more abundant measure, beyond? Do not they speak of eternal life as a thing already given and possessed? See John 6:54; 10:28; 17:3; 1 Tim. 6:12,19; 1 John 5:11,13. Eternal life and eternal salvation then are the heritage of the saint here, and now. In that salvation we find embraced first, the giving of life to the dead in sins, the entrance into communion with God, and fellowship with those who love and serve God; repentance, which Jesus has been exalted as a Prince and Savior to give; faith, which is the present fruit of the Spirit, and hope, and love, and all the graces of the Spirit, with a love of righteousness, and an abhorrence of sin. All this belongs to what the Scriptures call eternal life, or eternal salvation, of which Jesus is declared to be the author. Now in all this, there are no conditions left to the performance of man. All the conditions of this salvation have been performed by the Captain of salvation, our Daysman and Mediator. Believers are saved now in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation. This salvation is all of God, and he is the author of it. Now we should be slow to believe that any Old School Baptist would deny this. If any who bear the name, do deny it, they are not Bible Baptists, and they are not Old School Baptists. We trust that none who have been writing upon this theme, and who use the term ‘conditional time salvation’, mean by it that the new birth which is here in time; the bestowment of eternal life, which is now; the entrance of light and life, and all the spiritual fruits of this life, which are felt from time to time in the heart of the believer, and which exercise him in all godliness and righteous living, are dependent upon conditions of our performance. Yet those things are parts of that salvation which is received in time, and which take hold upon eternity. In this sense, our time salvation is but eternal salvation begun. If there be any conditions connected with the entrance of this salvation here, then it must follow that those conditions affect our destiny to all eternity, and this is Arminianism, or legalism.”

Chick wrote:

“'Conditional time salvation' seems to say, that the wages of God are eternal life, as well as the wages of sin, and to infer that all the blessings which we receive here are, in a sense, earned, or that we at least can say to another, who has not received so much of this life as we think we have, If you have lived as well as we, you would have fared as well. This is not the work of grace; it is not the fruit of eternal life to in any way exalt ourselves over any one. Eternal life says to the soul, and in the soul, All that I have is a mercy from God, bestowed upon a hell-deserving sinner.”

Chick wrote:

Much that has been said concerning ‘conditional time salvation’, has seemed to leave room for men to say, because I have lived right, I shall have a blessing, instead of putting all the blessings to credit of the grace of God.”

Thursday, September 6, 2012

From the "Signs of the Times" Volume 65

In 1897 the Signs of the Times magazine entered its 65th year of publication.  The editors at the time were Benton Jenkins, F.A. Chick, and B.L. Beebe.  Much like the 1820s and 1830s, this was a pivotal period; and one which if studied, will tell much about the controversy over absolutism and the growth of conditionalism.  The following quotes, taken from different issues, express some of the thoughts of the day, both from elders and others who wrote to the editors.  Hopefully, we shall bring forth more citations in the future as we are able to research this and other volumes of the notable periodical.

No. 1:

"Those who believe in conditional time salvation have, I think, invariably held up faith as one of the conditions. Will some one who believes that salvation is hinged upon conditions that rest with the sinner, and that this is one of them, please tell me how one is going to believe what he does not believe?" (Faith, E. Rittenhouse)

No. 7:

"In closing these remarks, we cannot do better than to quote the telling and solemn words of our dear and venerable brother, Elder W.M. Mitchell, in which he refers to this matter of time salvation. He says, “And now before closing this article, we will briefly say, that as there has been a great deal published in two or three of our Old Baptist papers of late, respecting conditional or time salvation, as it is called, we have only time now to say, that apart from that salvation that is in Jesus Christ, there is neither time nor eternal salvation for any child of God, or for any genuine believer in our Lord Jesus. In the gift of Jesus as Savior of sinners, God the Father has given all things that pertain to life and godliness, either for time, or for eternity" (F.A. Chick)

No. 15:

"In all of this trip I heard the truth preached, and I never heard one word in favor of that conditional time salvation, advocated by some in the south and west, neither did I hear anything said against predestination." (W.I. Carnell)

No. 16:

"There is, there can be, but two systems of salvation. One is grace, the other is works; one is unconditional, the other is conditional: one is of the Lord, the other is of man; one depends upon the Holy Spirit; the other ‘depends upon ourselves’. There is no such thing as blending, or mixing these two principles, for they are contrary the one to the other, and where one obtains, the other ceases. One bestows all the blessing received, as God’s free and unsought gift, the other deals them out as a debt paid for the good works done. One leads the seeking soul who desires salvation for every sin to cry, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner,’ the other disposes the sinner to say, ‘God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are’. This radical difference runs throughout these two principles of salvation, and there is no escaping from these opposite effects, for every tree bears fruit after its own kind. Now then, if we apply the principle of unconditional salvation, or salvation by grace, to our everlasting salvation, but apply the principle of conditional salvation, or salvation of works, to our ‘time salvation’, we then have two principles and ways of salvation at war with each other, absolutely irreconcilable and contradictory, and make ourselves more confused than Arminians." (W.M. Mitchell)

No. 17:

"Our greatest objection to what is commonly called ‘conditional time salvation’ is, that it seems to us to say that men do not serve God for naught. It seems to argue that love to God is not to be the moving cause of serving him, but rather the hope of rewards." (F.A. Chick and B.L. Beebe)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bad Views on Perseverance

Some good lessons were learned by the citations in our previous posting. Elder Burnam’s statements prove that preservation, while certainly true, does not itself convey if there is such a thing as a subjective or human side of the security we have in Christ. The term presents the truth strictly from the divine viewpoint. Yet as the elder demonstrated on trial, what we are saved “thru” in regeneration (Eph. 2:8), we are kept through “unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). Perseverance embraces this fact. It was a couple of key statements by Elder Guess, however, which are especially relevant in the current controversy of preservation vs. perseverance. What stands out is that he explicitly denied what others see as the reason why perseverance should be rejected. My guess is that he knows that there are many who have misrepresented the doctrine by claiming that it would suggest that final salvation can be earned. The explicit statements “we get no credit for our perseverance” and “perseverance is not works salvation” are probably specifically addressed to the mind which falsely charges the doctrine as being tantamount to Arminianism, that such is not the case. Just because there is necessary activity seen in the regenerate on his plod towards heaven, this is no cause to label it as a “works” system. Note as well in treating of Peter’s denial of Christ that temporal lapses of obedience are no cause for denying the reality of the saints’ perseverance, something which some of those we shall cite below fail to see. As the elder rightly notes, what we're talking about is their perseverance, not their perfection. Unfortunately, these are the objections which are usually raised against the doctrine, in the effort to prove that preservation is the only admissible term.

Having therefore taken a look at some good views of the perseverance of the saints, it is now time to look at some “not so good”. All emphasis is mine.

“Scripture only uses ‘perseverance’ one time, Ephesians 6:18, and in that passage the word is used as an exhortation to the Ephesians, not in any way teaching a divine decree that causes or ensures the faithful obedience of those whom God has regenerated by grace..” (Joseph R. Holder, Studies in Romans 13:11-14)

It matters not that perseverance only occurs once in the scriptures as there are comparable terms such as “continue” (Col 1:23) and “endure” (Mark 13:13) which teach the doctrine all the same. The decrees of God do ensure the faithful obedience of his people. It is guaranteed by those covenant passages where it is seen as the effect of God’s workings in regeneration (Jer. 32:40, Ez. 36:26-27). And since promised by one who cannot fail, it is certain to be accomplished in those for whom the promise was made.

Nor is classifying a text as exhortative in nature reason to dismiss the certainty that the elect shall obtain that unto which they are exhorted. The means should not be divorced from the end. The certainty of something does not render exhortation unto the same as unnecessary. The land of Canaan was the children of Israel's by promise, but they were still commanded to go up and take it (Deut.1:8). The elect shall positively abide in Christ (1 John 2:27) but are immediately exhorted thereafter to do so (v.28). Eternal life is given unto us but our Savior did not fail in exhorting us to labor for that which shall be given (John 6:27).

 In the same chapter, we read:

“The foundational premise of electing, redeeming, saving grace does not lie in our merit, be it Arminian merit or perseverance merit.”
 
Here we see the common charge that perseverance is on par with Arminianism. It is a caricature which may be refuted by Elder Guess’s own statement: “We get no credit for our perseverance”. Surely, if merit resulted from perseverance, we would receive credit for its performance.
 
Nothing done by man unto God can be considered as meritorious, in the strict sense of the term. “No work of man to God can bring Him by its own intrinsic merit, under an obligation to reward. All our works are owed to God; if all were done, we should only ‘have done what was our duty to do’. No right work is done in our own mere strength” (R.L. Dabney, Sanctification and Good Works). It must be understood that in all things we are “unprofitable servants” (Luke 17:10), before and after regeneration.

The same author writes further:
 
“Apparently after Sarah’s death, Abraham not only married another woman, not in Scripture at all condemned, but, according to the inspired record of Scripture in these two verses, he also embraced the common practice of his day to take concubines in addition to his wife. Abraham didn’t “…hold on his way.”

In response, let us consider this. If we have a verse from the inspired Word of God which explicitly states that the righteous “shall hold on his way” (Job 17:9) and an “example" from scripture where one did not, then one of two things must necessarily follow. Either the Word of God is wrong or our so-called example is no example at all!  If the New Testament includes Abraham as one of the heroes who “died in faith” (Heb. 11:13 w/8), then any microscopic examination of his life to prove otherwise is doomed to failure. The simple mistake Holder makes is feeling that times of disobedience on the part of God’s people is cause to reject the notion that they persevere. Yet the London Confession did not follow such a rule, but openly declared that though the saints can “fall into grievous sins”, they nevertheless persevere to the end! And to this agrees the Fulton Confession itself! More importantly, however, is the testimony of scripture:

“For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again…” (Prov. 24:16)

Perseverance is not that the just shall never fall, but that when they do fall they shall stand up!

Next, in a sermon-transcribed pamphlet entitled Predestination & Providence/Perseverance & Preservation, Elder Ronald Lawrence states:

“The last time we read anything about Lot in Genesis, chapter nineteen, he is in an immoral relationship with his two daughters; they are going to bear two sons by him, and he is drunk. Hardly an example of perseverance. He did not perseverance, did he? Obviously not.”

Later he says:

“…Agrippa made this statement. “Almost, Paul, thou persuades me to be a Christian.” Not all children of God are Christians. All true Christians are children of God, but not all God’s children are Christians."

We can reply to the case of Lot just as we did with Abraham. Times of sin in the lives of God's elect do not overthrow perseverance. As pertains to King Agrippa, the author’s conclusion is what happens when there’s a failure in distinguishing between saving and nominal faith. Possessing the latter is seen as evidence of regeneration. King Agrippa is thus treated as a born-again individual, only one who was not “converted” to the gospel. In Hardshell lingo, he didn’t get his time salvation. And then follows the inevitable deduction that men can be saved but not be Christians! Obviously, if this be the case, then perseverance must be wrong, for how can one continue in that to which he was never originally converted? It is this tendency in some of lumping nominal faith with true “saving faith” that has led those of such mind to view all the grounds mentioned in the parable of the seed-sower (Matt. 13:3-8) as representative of regenerate but unconverted children of God, something which Elder Sylvester Hassell saw in his day as a new theory.
 
Next, in an article entitled Warning to the Backslider: Hebrews 6, we read:
 
“How does one define perseverance? If perseverance means that every one of the regenerated elect will be a baptized, active, faithful, growing member of the church, the answer would have to be 'no'. Consider the Rich Young Ruler, whom Jesus loved, that walked away from the Lord because he was covetous. Lot, whom Peter calls a righteous man, was a compromiser. He certainly was not persevering in faith while in Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot's sermon lacked credibility to his daughters when he announced that God would judge the cities of the plain. Many are the sons of God for Jesus gave His life a ransom for many, but only a few are on the narrow way of discipleship.” (Bernard Gowens, Warning to the Backslider: Hebrews 6)

The error here lies in narrowing down the definition of perseverance below that which we should. This allows for ease of the teachings dismissal, as all it would take to overthrow the doctrine is to point out a case where a child of God was not baptized or became stagnant in his church growth. Then we have the case mentioned of the rich young ruler and Lot pointed out again as we’ve already seen, neither of which refute the doctrine of perseverance. Of course, the worst thing seen here is claiming that Heb. 6:4-6 is describing regenerated children of God!
 
Finally, one of the boldest quotes of which I’m acquainted:
 
Calvinism asserts that all the elect will persevere in faith and holiness. If an individual does not persevere, then he proves by his apostasy that he was merely a professor, not a possessor, of eternal life. Primitive Baptists insist that Divine Preservation, rather than human perseverance, is the Biblical emphasis, preservation being the term employed in Scripture to describe the eternal security of God’s people.” “A child of God may indeed fall from his own steadfastness in the faith, but will not fall from God's covenant favor. The chastisements upon God's children in disobedience are parental and remedial [corrective], not punitive. All of God's people will be preserved for they are "kept by His power", but they are responsible for "keeping the faith", "keeping their hearts with all diligence", and "keeping themselves in the love of God" (that is, behaving in such a way that He will manifest His blessing upon them and that they may adorn rather than reproach the doctrine they believe). Their preservation, not their perseverance, is guaranteed by covenant decree.”(Michael Gowens and Lonnie Mozingo, Jr., Ten Reasons Primitive Baptists Are Not Calvinists)

It is misleading to say that preservation is the aspect of eternal security emphasized by the Bible. Two truths may co-exist in which one may be said to occupy the forefront, but this is no denial that the second is false. The scriptures teach both preservation and perseverance. To deny the latter is the stubborn refusal to admit that the scriptures teach that there is such a thing as human responsibility within the context of eternal salvation. Whether intentional or not I do not know, but an important passage which teaches both viewpoints of our security in Christ is only partially quoted. Most likely a thought derived from 1 Peter 1:5, our authors tell us that we are "kept by His power" without the adjoining expression "through faith" as the text declares. Why the omission? Perhaps it would be destructive of the very thing sought to be erected here, that men may be kept by the power of God without faith. By including "through faith" countenance is given to the very thing denied, that God's elect do in fact persevere in faith unto final salvation (Heb. 10:39). They are kept by the power of God through faith! Moreover, the subjective experience of salvation and its objective fact would be viewed as joined, two things sought to be separated by the time salvation grid.
 
And the statement that only preservation and not perseverance, is guaranteed by God’s decree is simply false.

Observe.

Jeremiah 32:40:
 
“And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.”
 
Ezekiel 36:27:
 
“And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and you shall keep my judgments, and do them.”
 
Both of these passages speak of our security from the viewpoint of the creature. The fear of God having been placed in the hearts of His people, the result is guaranteed. They shall not depart from Him! The indwelling of the Spirit inevitably causes the soul to walk in God’s statutes.
 
As our forefathers rightly declared:
 
"This perseverance of the saints depends not upon their own free will, but upon immutability of the decree of election…”(1689 London Confession of Faith)
 
May more and more come to see this comforting fact.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Good Views on Perseverance

Preservation or perseverance? Which is the correct way to express the security of the Lord’s saints? The only problem that can be found with using preservation is that it does not immediately answer the question as to how they are preserved. It could be that the elect are preserved by God in their state of unbelief or ungodliness! Therefore, unless we convey the point that they are preserved in holiness the position could open the door for antinomianism.

There’s a good story involving D.L. Moody which illustrates how this could happen. A drunkard stopped him once and said, "Don’t you remember me? I’m the man you saved here two years ago." Moody’s reply was most appropriate:

"Well, it must have been me, because the Lord certainly didn’t do it."

Closer home to the Old Baptist circle, Elder E.H. Burnam expressed it correctly in the trial of Mt. Carmel Church(emphasis mine):

“Now the faith of the Old School Baptists or Regular Baptists, as they used to be called and are still called by us, was salvation by grace through faith, and the perseverance of the saints in grace to glory. The perseverance! The word perseverance instead of preservation. A clear distinction must be drawn between the two words. Preservation does not necessarily include faith, but perseverance could not exist without it. None persevere unto eternal life except through a God-given faith.”

It was most pleasant to read the words of Elder Zack Guess on this as well, who states things correctly. He writes (emphasis mine):

“Someone has said that perseverance and preservation are two sides of the same coin. I agree with that statement.

Preservation means that none of the elect will finally be plucked from the hand of God. This is sometimes referred to as the doctrine of ETERNAL SECURITY. It is sometimes defined as ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED. This is definitely a beautiful and comforting Biblical truth.

Perseverance is the other side of the coin. What I understand this to mean is that the elect will persevere in some degree of faith and holiness. When people hear this they sometimes run backwards, because they think that those who hold to this doctrine are teaching perfectionism. But this is not true. When I say that the elect will continue in some degree of faith and holiness, I am simply saying that their faith will not totally and finally fail. Someone has already given the example of Christ praying for Peter that his faith would not fail. Peter certainly had a grievous lapse of faith, but the Lord interceded for him and his faith was not totally and finally overthrown. In fact the Scripture teaches this in 1 John 5:4, where it is said" For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith."

When I say that the child of God will persevere in some degree of holiness, I simply mean that there is a difference in one who is spiritually alive and one who is spiritually dead. A child of God cannot live permanently in gross sin and be happy in it.

We get no credit for our perseverance. It is the work of God in us.”

Further down in the same article he says:

“Perseverance is not works salvation. It is simply the outworking in our lives of what God has worked in us.”

http://www.gcpbc.org/Writings-by-Elder-Zack-Guess.php

There is much to be thankful for in these words. Living at a time in which the perseverance of the saints (not eternal security itself) is being denied by many of my former acquaintances, it was good to see a correct balanced view being presented. Guess is correct in saying that preservation and perseverance are two sides to the same coin. They express the objective and subjective side, respectively, of our perpetual union to Christ. And on this the scriptures agree. To illustrate, simply compare John 10:27-29 with Job 17:9.

OBJECTIVE:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” (John 10:27-29)

SUBJECTIVE:

“The righteous also shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.” (Job 17:9)

Nor is any credit given to the creature for his perseverance. It is not a “works” system as some have suggested in identifying the doctrine as teaching legalism.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Are Calvinists Pharisees?

While going through my old material from years ago, I came across some of the strawmen arguments commonly used to tear down that system of truth taught by some of the great ministerial giants of the past.

“By not distinguishing, rightly dividing the word of truth, and the blending of Eternal and Timely Salvation, one can be falsely led to believe that Regeneration is only the first "half-step," and the 2nd "half-step" is found within your "Positive Obedient Response to the free offer of the gospel," thereby completing and bringing you unto "final" salvation. This is rank heresy. Saving Faith is exercised as an effect and result of and certainly not the cause of Eternal Salvation. One is solely by the works of the Holy Trinity, and the second, is by the faith-works of the regenerated man. There is really no difference in the Old Law Pharisee and the modern day "grace works" dogmas of Calvinism.” (Elder Hulan Bass, The Banner of Love, August 2001)

The Calvinists are Pharisees

• The “work” of the Calvinist is “believing” the gospel message. We refer to this as “Gospel Regeneration” and it can be found on every religious TV station.
• Predestination includes hearing and believing (doing something) for salvation.
• All of the elect will hear and believe to get eternally saved.
• Enabling grace will then be provided to persevere or stay saved until death. Some refer to this as “Lordship Salvation” meaning that Jesus cannot be your Savior without being your Lord. The one is proof of the other.
• Both the Pharisees and the Calvinists are “absoluters” in that they teach that all things are absolutely predestinated. Ask one to explain Romans 8:28.
• The Pharisees believed in “election” of the Jews. They would all go to Abraham’s Bosom by keeping the law.
• The Calvinist system is: Grace plus Works for Salvation and Grace plus Works to Persevere to the end.

(Elder Conrad Jarrell, Grace vs. Calvinism)

These quotations are full of so many errors and caricatures of Calvinism.

Spurgeon. Whitefield. Owen. The framers of the Confessions.

Pharisees???

I’m sure they would object. And so would I.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Two Faiths, or One Faith with Two Stages?

On October 21, 2008, fellow contributor Stephen wrote:
"The Hardshells not only insist on "two kinds of salvation" in the Bible, but also two kinds of faith, two kinds of sanctification, two kinds of births, two kinds of obedience, two kinds of following Christ, two kinds of repentance, two kinds of hearing Christ's words, two kinds of life, two kinds of forgiveness, etc."
These are words with which I heartily agree.  The duplication of Christian virtues is the inevitable result of what happens when one follows a system which attempts to preserve God fulfilling his purpose concerning His elect in time, but will not allow Him to do so through gospel means.  For each evangelical blessing that is to be conveyed to the children of God, a non-evangelical version must be created of which they are said to receive, where the former is left uncertain.  However, if “two faiths” is a caricature view, as Brother Jason Brown has charged in his rebuttal to my last posting, then both Brother Stephen and myself are guilty.  Yet we both spent double-digit years under this doctrine, in which a distinction was often made between seed and evangelical faith. 

If the terminology of “two faiths” is a caricature, it would stand to reason that the charge of "two kinds" of other virtues (listed above) are a caricature as well.  What of "two salvations"?  Is that a caricature? If evangelical faith is an extension of seed faith in regeneration, then is gospel conversion (i.e. time salvation) also an extension of regeneration?  It would seem that way.  For if evangelical faith is not really a separate faith from that received in regeneration, then the "two salvations" which are said to bring seed and evangelical faith, respectively, should be considered a single unit as well. Otherwise we are left with the strange conclusion that time salvation conveys and imparts a blessing which is actually part of the first salvation!  Thus, the verbage of “two salvations” should henceforth be discarded. Starting today, it should be declared that there really are not two salvations taught in scripture.  Rather, there is one salvation taught in the Bible, in which regeneration and the future gospel conversion are the components.  For to call it two salvations would be a caricature!
But let us notice the usage of two faiths in the following citations.
I do believe that all who are regenerated will and do have faith, but deny that the "faith" -- that is, the believing response to God -- is in all cases "cognitive" or "informed" faith -- for cognitive faith necessarily depends on hearing the rational proclamation of the gospel; rather, I do not hesitate to affirm that it is, in all cases, below the level of consciousness -- Lazarus-like, the sinner responds believingly to Christ in response to His Divine fiat in regeneration, being made willing in the day of His power, believing according to the working of His mighty power, and coming to Christ in "vital" relationship (Ps. 110:3; Eph. 2:8; Eph. 1:19; Jno. 6:37, 44). Cognitive faith is indeed present in some, but the gift of faith is present in all of God's children; hence, I concur that no one goes to heaven without faith, but deny that no one goes to heaven without rational knowledge of the truth. A teaching does indeed take place in the new birth, for God teaches the heart directly and immediately to know Him (Jno. 6:65). Cognitive faith, however, must necessarily come after this initial work of grace in the soul, for it depends on the instrumentality of the preached word. Obviously, if such cognitive (or evangelical) faith is necessary to eternal salvation, then every infant who dies in infancy and every individual without average mental capacities would miss salvation.” (Michael Gowens, Temporal Salvation: A Bogus or Biblical Concept?)
Clear reference is here made by the author to faith below the level of consciousness versus cognitive/informed faith.  Let’s do the math: 1+1=2. That’s what the unacquainted reader would conclude.  Unfortunately, the citation does not answer the question as to whether the author really feels that there is in reality only ONE faith, separated in two possible stages.  I think that would all depend on whether he aligns himself to the position which states that the regenerate elect who do get to hear the gospel would receive it or reject it.
Let us take another quote:
“Understanding faith will have a great effect on our relationship with God and our Savior while we yet live in this low ground of sin and sorrow.  Where does faith come from?  Can someone who is not a child of God believe in Jesus Christ?  Who can believe, when can they believe, and why do they believe?  Will all of God’s elect believe in Jesus Christ?  Does faith have the same meaning every time it is used in the scripture?  Are there different kinds of faith?  Could there be different phases of the same faith?” (Randy Dillon, Faith, Primitive Advocate)
Since inquiry is made both to whether there are different kinds of faith or different phases of it, it is not known as to whether the author prefers to use the terminology “two faiths” or one faith composed of the seed and evangelical phase/steps.
And lastly, in the pivotal trial of Mt. Carmel Church, Elder T.S. Dalton was questioned:
"You believe that God given faith is essential to the salvation of God's people, do you not?"
To which he replied:
"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."
If the true position within this system is that there is one faith composed of two stages, and not two faiths, then the fault lies not with me in making a caricature, but the failure of others in not pointing this out.  I repeat what I read and hear.  When they are held in contrast with each other in sermons or quotations such as those given above, it is quite easy to walk away with the impression that there is one "kind" of faith necessary for salvation, and another "kind" which is not.  I think Brother Stephen would join me in saying that we heard it expressed this way for many years.

The main point, though, is that even if I were to go back and rewrite my posting, and change my verbage of "two faiths" to one faith with two aspects, the substance remains the same.  Passages yoking faith with salvation must still be given an interpretation.  So I express it differently.  What is that stage or aspect of the ONE faith which unites us to Christ, as in Gal. 3:26?  Is it:

1) faith below the consciousness through the preaching of Jesus?
2) cognitive faith through the preaching of Jesus?
3) cognitive faith through the preaching of men?


Or some other permutation?  This is not a haphazard handling of a subject, but a legitimate question based on the various aspects of faith as defined by the very inventors of this regeneration-conversion divorcement.
But let us, for the sake of argument, suppose that there is one faith in Christ, consisting of two distinct stages separated by some expanse of time.  The result is that we end up facing that question which often surfaces in theological circles:  Is there any time gap between regeneration and conversion?  I can remember the time when I struggled with this question.  Entertaining this as a possibility was part of the process the Lord brought me through when I left the anti-means position.  As I grew in my understanding of some of the deeper things of soteriology I came to see all the theological problems created when one espouses such a view, not to mention the proof texts in the Bible which destroy it. The scriptures annihilate the idea of a time gap between regeneration and conversion, and thus the position that says that one receives seed faith in regeneration, and then evangelical faith one week, one year, or twenty years later.  It does so by specific proof texts in which evangelical faith as preached by MAN is included as part of the transition in which one goes from death in sins to life in Christ.
"In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory." (Eph. 1:13-14)
The text is clear.  The faith is evangelical.  The verses preceeding are dealing with matters respecting eternal salvation, and are some of the most profound of the Bible.  The sealing of the Holy Spirit speaks of how the regenerate are safe in Christ.  They receive the earnest of the inheritance, not in time salvation, but in regeneration!  I have never encountered one single writer in history who argues otherwise, and I certainly am not wiser than they.
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” (Rom. 6:17-18)

They were the servants of sin (i.e. unregenerate).  The doctrine was presented to them in that condition!  They obeyed the doctrine thus presented!  They were made free from sin! Not in time salvation, but in regeneration! 

It takes a most prejudiced mind to deny that these scriptures teach that the gospel is somehow involved in deliverance from depravity.

It is most interesting as well that Brother Jason commented favorably on a recent posting of mine regarding John Watson.  The stickler is that the Elder mentioned the evangelical faith (the gospel preached by man) of Romans 10 as transitional in going from death to life.

I post it again.

"Some do not object if the believers only be exhorted, but contend it is wrong to exhort the impenitent sinner to repent, or the unbeliever to believe! because the doctrine of repentance and faith is that they are both the gifts of God.  Has not the Lord ordained the preaching of His word to that very end? Rom. 10:8,15."

Lest there should be any doubt that the Elder felt evangelical faith was part of the transition from death to life, he writes as well:

"I would just state here, at once, that I have no idea that sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, will ever believe through the mere preaching of the Gospel, or through the exhortations of the Lord's ministers, any more than that they dry bones would have lived through the prophecying of the prophet, apart from what the Lord did for them.  But that fact does not nullify the commission to preach to them, but on the contrary greatly strengthens it.  The divine assurance that God's word will prosper in the thing whereunto He hath sent it, affords greate encouragement to preach to sinners.  If it be said by the objector that they are deaf and cannot hear it, faith replies God can open their ears; if said they are dead, faith again says God will give them life; and thus faith can meet all the objections which can be urged against preaching to the very chief of sinners, and at the same time exclude that Arminianism which some effect to see in a course of this kind."

Thus we see that evangelical faith is not something far removed from regeneration, but part and parcel to it. To deny this by placing it in the category of "conversion" as defined by those contending for the ordo salutis is no defense at all. Saying that there are people walking about in society who have been regenerated for x number of years and not converted is something entirely different.

Throughout the debate he has had with Brother Stephen, I noticed how Jason relied heavily on the case of Peter cited in Luke 22:32 to prove that such a time gap is warranted.  This is not according to sound hermeneutics.  Case studies should not be used as proof texts.  The exegesis of explicit Bible passages such as Eph. 1:13-14 and Romans 6:17-18 mentioned above should be where one grounds his doctrine, with case studies being interpreted in their light.  If we follow that rule, we will see that when one is regenerated, he is converted.

Right then and there.

For a more specific treatment of this soteriological "system of twos", I refer the reader to Brother Stephen's article:

http://baptistgadfly.blogspot.com/2007/08/chapter-46-addresses-to-lost-v.html