Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chpt. 120 - Conditional or Unconditional?

As was seen in the previous chapter, the old Baptists have always had a bias against affirming that salvation was conditional.  Such a bias has often put them on the defensive with the Arminians and led them to clarify what they meant and what they did not mean.  In defending what they intended by their denial of conditional salvation, they showed that they did not go to extremes, as have today's Hardshells.  They did not go to an extreme and affirm that salvation was unconditional in every sense of the term, but maintained that faith and repentance, or conversion and perseverance, were necessary for being eternally saved, that they were conditions of connection. 

It seems that it was a common trait of many old Baptists to often speak in favor of "unconditional salvation" and to denounce "conditional salvation."  In further proof of this, notice these remarks of Dr. John Gill, a man who had leanings toward Hyper Calvinism.

Gill wrote:

"...salvation is through faith, not as a cause or condition of salvation, or as what adds anything to the blessing itself; but it is the way, or means, or instrument, which God has appointed, for the receiving and enjoying it, that so it might appear to be all of grace..."  (Commentary on Eph. 2: 8)

"Therefore it is of faith that it might be by grace...Meaning either the promise of being heir of the world, or the inheritance itself, or adoption which gives heirship, or remission of Sin, or the blessing of justification, either and all of these are of faith; not as the cause or condition of them, but as the means of God's fixing and appointing to be the recipient of all and each of them..."  (Commentary on Rom. 4: 16)

“ is not the cause, or condition of the decree of eternal life, but a means fixed in it, and is a fruit and effect of it, and what certainly follows upon it.” (Commentary on Acts 13: 48) 

One can easily see the bias of Gill towards affirming that salvation was unconditional.  Yet, one can also see his need to further explain what he means.  Gill realized that denying conditions in salvation often gave a wrong impression to many, who would ask - "are not faith and repentance conditions for salvation?"  To this Gill and the old Baptists would promptly clarify themselves and their clarification was always for the purposing of affirming that faith and repentance were necessary requirements for salvation.  Thus, Keach and Bunyan were careful to distinguish between absolute promises and conditions and those that are conditional, and that the performance of the latter were dependent upon the former.  Leading Hardshell of the late 19th century, Sylvester Hassell, related the view of Keach and Bunyan and showed that all the conditions of salvation were guaranteed fulfillment by the terms of the absolute and unconditional promises of salvation.  They did not take the view of Gowens, and modern Hardshells, which says that the salvation that is conditional, in scripture, is a different salvation from the one that is unconditional, one being temporal and the other being eternal.  It was their inability to understand how the same salvation was both conditional and unconditional, as the old Baptists explained, that led them into their error. 

Andrew Fuller wrote:

"I have no partiality for calling faith, or any thing done by us, the condition of salvation; and if by the term were meant a deed to be performed of which the promised good is the reward, it would be inadmissible. If I had used the term, it would have been merely to express the necessary connection of things, or that faith is that without which there is no salvation; and, in this sense, it is no less a condition in Mr. A.'s scheme than in that which he opposes. He thinks, however, that the promises of God are, by his statement of things, disencumbered of conditions; yet how he can prove that God has absolutely given Christ and spiritual blessings to multitudes who will never possess them, I am at a loss to conceive. I should have supposed that whatever God has absolutely promised would take effect."   (pgs. 24, 25, The works of Andrew Fuller, Vol. I, "The Gospel Worthy of all Acceptation,"  - See here)

Fuller shows the same reluctance to affirm that salvation was conditional as Bunyan, Keach, and Gill, and also manifested the same need to guard against the connotations that are often associated with denying salvation to be conditional.  Fuller says that he does not mean "condition" in the Pelagian or Arminian sense, that it implies that salvation is by deeds and meritorious.  When Fuller refers to "any thing done by us," he means to oppose the idea that faith and repentance of "done by us," i.e., done by our own free will and power.  He certainly is not denying that they are actual believers and penitents who do the believing and repenting.  What Fuller and the old Baptists were affirming was that they believed that faith and repentance were more properly the work of Christ in us, were gifts of grace, resulting from divine choice, being the "fruit (or effects) of election."  They resisted any attempts to make faith and repentance to be primary causes, but rather affirmed them to be secondary causes and conditions.  Fuller says he accepts the fact that salvation is conditional in order to show "the necessary connection of things," and to affirm "that faith is that without which there is no salvation."

Dr. Kenneth Keathley, present day author, wrote:

"Faith is not the means to deserve salvation, but it is the means to obtain it (John 3:36; Acts 16:31). Faith is not the condition for God to give salvation, but it is the condition to receive it. Therefore exercising faith is not meriting salvation. When a free gift is given, the merit belongs to the giver of the gift, not the recipient (Rom.4:16; Eph. 2:8-9)." (See here)

This is exactly what Bunyan, Keach, Gill, and Hassell affirmed.  Gill, though reluctant to use the word "conditional" as an adjective with "salvation," nevertheless was not reluctant to use the word "means," to affirm that faith and were repentance were "means."  And, what is a "means" but a "condition"?  They also were not reluctant to say that faith is the means for "receiving" salvation. 

T. P. Simmons, in his Systematic Theology, wrote:

"Arminians charge that unconditional election means unconditional salvation, and that we teach that men were actually saved in eternity. Both charges are groundless, for election is not salvation. We were unconditionally elected in eternity to a conditional salvation in time. And when we speak of salvation as being conditional we do not mean that the salvation of the elect is in any way fortuitous or uncertain, but only that certain conditions (repentance and faith) must be fulfilled before they come to possess salvation."

One should recall the citation of Gowens, in the previous chapter, where Gowens was unable to see how the scriptures could be talking about the same salvation when it spoke of salvation in both conditional and unconditional terminology, and how he thought that making all the verses speaking of conditions to deal with a strictly temporal salvation, and that making all the verses speaking of what is unconditional to be dealing with eternal salvation, answered the difficulty.  I responded by affirming that this new paradigm ought not to have been forced on scripture, and that the Hardshells should go back to the faith of their forefathers, like Bunyan, Keach, Gill, Fuller, and Hassell, and see that the same salvation is both conditional and unconditional, in the sense that they explained.

Simmons, like Keathley, accurately affirms the old Baptist position about how salvation is both conditional and unconditional and that there was no contradiction in saying so.  Simmons spoke of being "unconditionally elected in eternity to a conditional salvation in time."

Simmons continued:

"A condition is "something that necessarily precedes a result, but does not produce it." In eternity the salvation of the elect was purposed, and the elect are spoken of in the purpose of God as called, justified, and glorified (Rom. 8: 29, 30), but this is simply the language of Him, who in His purpose, "calleth the things that are not, as though they were" (Rom. 4:17). Many passages clearly teach that actual salvation takes place in time. For this we strongly contend. We have no patience whatsoever with the theory that the salvation which takes place in time is only temporal salvation, or salvation as it respects this life."

Simmons explains that salvation is conditional in the sense that faith and repentance "necessarily precedes a result."  He then condemns the Hardshell explanation of "temporal salvation" in their attempts to make salvation unconditional in every respect. 

Simmons continued:

"At the same time God chose His people He ordained all the means necessary to accomplish their full and final salvation. See Rom. 8:29, 30. These means were inseparably joined to election in the decree of God. We have no sympathy with Hardshellism, hypercalvinism. To say that the elect will be saved whether they ever hear the gospel or not is to misunderstand completely the connection between election and the means God has ordained for the accomplishment of the end of election."

Simmons was correct in his denunciation of Hardshellism in its rejection of the means and conditions of salvation. 

Simmons continued:

"Salvation—spiritual, temporal, and eternal—is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 5:1; Gal. 8:26). All the heathen that die without hearing the gospel will be lost (Rom. 1:19, 20; 2:12). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17)."

Wherever God has an elect soul, in the fullness of His own time, He will in some way send the gospel to call that one from darkness to light. See 2 Thess. 2:14. Thus Philip was sent to the elect eunuch, and thus it was given to Paul to endure that the elect might obtain eternal salvation (11 Tim. 2:10). Thus we have the divine tie between election and missions."

Simmons affirms the scriptural and primitive Baptist belief and shows how the Hardshells are not "Primitive" as they claim.

Simmons continued:

"Some charge that unconditional election makes all means useless. They say if the case is so with man that he cannot by nature receive spiritual things and must be quickened by the Spirit before he can turn from sin, being sure to turn when he is quickened, then why preach to him? We preach to him, first of all, because God has commanded it. We accept God’s Word whether we can reason out why He speaks thus and so or not. We do not make our reason the standard of obedience or truth, as is the case with Arminians. But, on the other hand, we find God’s Word to teach that God calls His elect by the Word, since the Word is the instrument of the Spirit in regeneration (John 3:5; Eph. 5:25, 26; Titus 3:5; Jas. 1:18; 1 Pet. 1:23). There is no more incongruity in preaching the gospel to the spiritually dead than there was in Christ’s standing before the tomb of Lazarus, dead four days, and saying, "Lazarus, come forth." As long as he remained dead Lazarus could not hear, much less obey, the command. But the life-giving power of God accompanied the Word of God, and Lazarus both heard and came forth. It is ours to preach the gospel to every creature, for so has Christ commanded. It is God’s part to bring the dead to life. See also the parable of the dry bones in the valley, where we have a picture of conversion through preaching (Ezek. 37). The dry bones represent the state of sinners by nature. The bones were lifeless; yet preaching to them was not in vain."

Gowens and the Hardshells, unlike Simmons and the Old Baptists, make human logic and "reason" into the "standard of truth," but the Old Baptists relied solely upon express scriptural statements.  The Old Baptists did not deny means and divorce faith from its necessary connection with salvation.  They rejected both the "word alone" and "Spirit alone" extreme views.

Simmons continued: 

"And Arminians ask, "Why pray for the lost, since all God’s elect will be saved and none others can be saved?" We pray for the lost for the same reason that Paul prayed for men, even though he taught unconditional election. We pray for the lost for the same reason that Christ prayed for the security of believers, even though that security was already certain. See John 17:11. Christ also prayed for a restoration of His former glory with the Father. See John 17:5. Was that in any sense uncertain? Prayer, as well as preaching, is a means of God in carrying out His will. His purposes are sovereignly fixed and eternally immutable, but He did not fix them independent of means."

The Hardshells departed from scripture and the Old Baptist faith when they denied preaching, faith, repentance, and perseverance, to be means and conditions for salvation and that God's eternal decree of salvation involved their conversion to Christ by the gospel, that the absolute and unconditional promises of God secured the fulfillment of all the conditions done by his chosen people in effectual calling.

In section IV, titled "Election is not Hardshellism," Simmons wrote:

"It is customary for Arminians to reproach the Bible doctrine of election by referring to it as "Hardshellism." May God forgive them, for they know not what they do. That election is not Hardshellism is proved by the following facts:


This is proved by the Scriptures given above that show that regeneration is through the Word. And it is also proved by 2 Thess. 2:13, 14. The elect have been chosen to "salvation in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." To this, Paul says, they are "called by our gospel." Typical Hardshells deny the indispensable necessity of the knowledge of the gospel in regeneration. For that reason they show little concern in the carrying out of the great commission.


(1) They split over "mission, education, support of pastors, and other religious enterprises" (Jarrell, p. 431).

(2) In the split both parties held to unconditional election.

It will not be challenged that the Hardshells held to this doctrine. That the Missionaries did too is proved by the testimony of Spencer, who says that the Missionaries, "which embraced the main body of the denomination, held the doctrinal sentiments of Andrew Fuller," who believed in unconditional election, even though he taught an atonement of universal sufficiency. See History of Kentucky Baptists, Vol. 1, p. 645.


This is proved by—

(1) The fact that both accept the statement on election in the Philadelphia Confession of Faith.

Hardshells still accept this. And among the Missionaries this confession "is stiff widely used, and in the South it is probably the most influential of all confessions" (McGlothlin, Baptist Confessions of Faith, p. 298).

(2) The fact that unconditional election is taught in the other great American Baptist confession—the New Hampshire.

(3) The fact that all our standard theological text books and all doctrinal books written by representative and recognized Baptists teach this doctrine.


Modem missionary vision and effort originated, not among the General (Arminian) Baptists, nor yet among any other Arminian denomination, but among the Particular (Calvinistic) Baptists of England. See the record in most any Baptist history. Robert Hall, Sr., Andrew Fuller, and William Carey were the leading lights.

American world-wide missionary effort originated in the Philadelphia Association, which adopted the hated Philadelphia Confession of Faith. See "The Story of Baptists," Cook, p. 327. "The Philadelphia Association speedily became the leading body of American Baptists—a position that it has not wholly lost to this day (1897). Pretty much everything good in our history, from 1700 to 1850, may be traced to its initiative or active cooperation" (Vedder, Short History of Baptists, p. 204)."
   (Systematic Study of Bible Doctrine, Chapter 20)

These words of Simmons show a great understanding of the errors of Hardshellism and give a complete refutation of their false claims about being scriptural and primitive Baptists. 

H. Boyce Taylor, who I cited in chapter ten, wrote:

"The second heresy of Hardshellism is like the first, a half-truth. They teach the doctrine of personal, unconditional, eternal election. That is the truth, but not all the truth on that subject. "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction" (II Peter 3:16). But they warp and wrest and twist that truth and make it teach a lie, namely, that if God elected a man unto salvation, he will be saved, whether he ever hears the gospel or not. The God, who elected the men unto salvation, also elected the means for their salvation. To preach the personal election of men, as Hardshells do, and leave out or deny the divinely chosen means, is not only not the truth, but is a wicked perversion of the truth...God's election was "unto salvation." This salvation was not unconditional, but was "through the sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth." This unconditional election was unto a conditional salvation to which the elect were called by the gospel. These unconditionally elected ones could only obtain the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ through a conditional salvation to which they were called by the gospel. Since Hardshellism preaches no gospel, no one has been called unto salvation through it. Since being called unto salvation by the gospel is necessary to obtaining salvation and Hardshellism has no gospel for the unsaved, no one was ever saved by Hardshellism. Since God's elect are all called unto salvation by the Gospel and the Hardshell elect are all saved without the gospel, Hardshell elect are not God's elect. Since all God's elect are saved "thru sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth" and Hardshells are saved without the belief of the truth. Hardshells are not saved or not God's elect and Hardshellism is not the truth. Since God's unconditional election is unto a conditional salvation and Hardshell unconditional election is unto an unconditional salvation; Hardshell election is not the truth but a perversion of the truth and is not unto a salvation at all but unto damnation. Remember that God's unconditional election is unto a conditional salvation and when Hardshellism teaches an unconditional salvation the election they preach is unto damnation instead of salvation. An election which does not include the preaching of the Gospel as a condition of salvation is not God's election at all; for "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). God's election included both the men and the means. But once more Paul said: "I endure all things for the elect's sake, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (II Tim. 2:10). The elect will obtain eternal glory; but how? By the missionaries enduring all things that they may preach the gospel by which the elect are called unto salvation. Since Hardshell election leaves out missions it is not God's kind, not Paul's kind and not the truth."

These words of Boyce, like those of Simmons, need little comment.  Boyce shows how the leading error of Hardshellism is no minor departure from the truth, and how it is really anti gospel, anti salvation, anti biblical.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chpt. 119 - Conditional or Unconditional?

Having shown in the previous two series how regeneration was the result of both the mediate and immediate work of the Spirit, and has both active and passive aspects, we will in this series prove that both the scriptures and the old Baptist writings prove that salvation is both unconditional and conditional.  First, let us notice how the old Baptists were strong advocates of unconditional salvation.  In Spencer's History of the Kentucky Baptists, we read:

"Thus was Elkhorn Association constituted, on Saturday, October 1, 1785. William Cave was chosen Moderator. The Association decided that all matters of business should be determined by a majority. At the request of Gilberts Creek, the oldest church in the Association, a committee was sent to inquire into its standing. In answer to a query from Tates Creek,the churches were advised to use all tenderness to reclaim persons holding the error of conditional salvation, but if they could not be reclaimed, to exclude them." (Spencer's History of Kentucky Baptists Volume II, 1886 - See here)

Clearly the old Baptists of the 18th century condemned "conditional salvation."  But, lest one read too much into this, one should discern what they were condemning and what they were not condemning.  They certainly were not condemning the teaching that men must believe and repent in order to be saved.  This is clear from the fact that the Elkhorn Association at its inauguration adopted the Philadelphia Confession of faith which clearly taught that gospel faith and repentance were necessary for eternal salvation.

Elder Michael Gowens, present day Hardshell writer, wrote:

"Further, the Bible employs both unconditional and conditional language. In one text we are told that salvation is “ordered in all things and sure”; in another that a person is saved “if [he] keeps in memory what was preached” (2 Sam. 23:5; 1 Cor. 15:2). How can the same object be both unconditional and conditional simultaneously? How can it both depend on man and not depend on man at the same time? Obviously, the only legitimate way of interpreting these kinds of apparently contrary ideas is to understand that not every “salvation” verse is talking about salvation in the ultimate sense." ("Temporal Salvation" - See here)

In these words there is revelation of the problem that modern Hardshells have as regards the historic teaching of the old Baptists regarding unconditional salvation.  Gowens admits that salvation in the Bible "employs both unconditional and conditional language" and sees this as contradictory and then queries - "How can the same object be both unconditional and conditional simultaneously?"  He then answers his own query by saying "the only legitimate way of interpreting" such incongruity is "to understand that not every 'salvation' verse is talking about salvation in the ultimate sense."  But, this is not the "only" way to deal with the incongruity, and is certainly not the "way" the old Baptists who wrote the old London Confession of 1689 resolved the seeming difficulty, as we shall see.   

Claude Cayce, Hardshell debater, wrote:

"A saving knowledge and faith in Christ does not come through the gospel; but one must have that before he can be reached through the gospel. God does not reach them in the work of regeneration though preaching. If He does, then that involves the idea that their eternal salvation is conditional."   (Cayce's Editoria Writings, Volume 6, page 176)

This statement shows again how the Hardshells carried the old Baptist doctrine of unconditional salvation to an extreme and how they did not properly understand it.  The old Baptists of the 17th century taught unconditional salvation but they did not see a need to invent the novel doctrine of "time salvation," or of "two salvations," as today's Hardshells maintain, nor did they believe, as did Cayce, that unconditional salvation excluded the idea that "saving knowledge and faith in Christ" were  necessary for being eternally saved. 

Elder John R. Daily, another leading Hardshell apologist and debater, wrote:

"To suppose that eternal life as experienced in the soul by regeneration comes through the instrumentality of the Scriptures is no less an error than the conditional theory. In fact this is but another form of conditionalism..." (August 1899, Vol. 38, No. 8)

Daily condemns the biblical teaching that God regenerates through the gospel because, in his mind, it is contrary to the old Baptist doctrine of unconditional salvation.  The odd thing about Daily's view is that he has no qualms about accepting "conditionalism" as it respects "time salvation."  He thinks that the idea that eternal salvation is conditional is "an error" but the idea that "time salvation" is conditional is no error.  Daily thinks that affirming that conversion is necessary for being eternally saved is to be rejected because it is a "form of conditionalism."  To Daily, the only way to uphold unconditional salvation is to affirm that faith and repentance are not requirements for being eternally saved.  But, this is not what the scriptures nor the oldest Particular Baptists taught, as we shall see.

Sylvester Hassell, another great leader of the Hardshells, wrote:

"All the unconditional spiritual promises of God, from the beginning to the end of the Scriptures, engage to work in His people all the conditions of the conditional promises, and thus ensure their salvation (Gen. iii. 15; xii. 3; 2 Sam. xxiii. 5; Psalm cx. 3; Isa. xxvii. 13; xxxv. 10; xlii. 16; xlv. 17; liii.-lv.; Jer. xxxi. 33-37; Ezek. xxxvi. 25-27; xxxvii. 1-14; Zech. xii. 10-14; xiii. 1, 7-9; Matt. i. 21; xxv. 34; John vi. 37-40; x. 15, 27-30; xvii. 2, 3, 24; Acts xiii. 48; Rom. v. 19-21; viii. 28-39; Eph. i.-iii.; 2 Thess. 13, 14; 2 Tim. i. 9, 10; 1 Pet. i., ii.; 1 John v. 11, 12; Rev. i. 5, 6; xxi. 27)."  ("Interpreting the Scriptures-The Error of Conditionalism" by Sylvester Hassell, The Gospel Messenger—September, 1894 - See here)

Hassell here states the answer to the problem that evaded Gowens, Cayce, and Daily.  The view that Hassell states is the same that was expressed by the old Baptists of the 17th century, as we shall see.  Hassell is affirming that salvation is both conditional and unconditional and does not see the solution in creating various kinds of salvation, in creating a paradigm of time and eternal salvation.  Hassell says that the "conditional promises" do not contradict the unconditional nature of salvation, for the conditional promises are secured by God's unconditional decision to ensure that the conditions are met by the elect. 

John Bunyan (1628-1688) wrote:

"The difference, therefore, betwixt the absolute and conditional promise is this: (1.) They differ in their terms. The absolute promises say, I will, and you shall: the other, I will, if you will; or, Do this, and thou shalt live (Jer 4:1; 31:31-33; Eze 18:30-32; 36:24-34; Heb 8:7-13; Matt 19:21).(2.) They differ in their way of communicating of good things to men; the absolute ones communicate things freely, only of grace; the other, if there be that qualification in us, that the promise calls for, not else. (3.) The absolute promises therefore engage God, the other engage us: I mean, God only, us only. (4.) Absolute promises must be fulfilled; conditional may, or may not be fulfilled. The absolute ones must be fulfilled, because of the faithfulness of God; the other may not, because of the unfaithfulness of men.(5.) Absolute promises have therefore a sufficiency in themselves to bring about their own fulfilling; the conditional have not so. The absolute promise is therefore a big-bellied promise, because it hath in itself a fullness of all desired things for us; and will, when the time of that promise is come, yield to us mortals that which will verily save us; yea, and make us capable of answering of the demands of the promise that is conditional. 4. Wherefore, though there be a real, yea, an eternal difference, in these things, with others, betwixt the conditional and absolute promise; yet again, in other respects, there is a blessed harmony betwixt them; as may be seen in these particulars. The conditional promise calls for repentance, the absolute promise gives it (Acts 5:31). The conditional promise calls for faith, the absolute promise gives it (Zeph 3:12; Rom 15:12). The conditional promise calls for a new heart, the absolute promise gives it (Eze 36:25,26). The conditional promise calleth for holy obedience, the absolute promise giveth it, or causeth it (Eze 36:27)."

Clearly Hassell, unlike Gowens, Cayce, and Daily, reflected the views of Bunyan and the 17th century Baptists, who saw a harmony between the conditionality and unconditionality of salvation, and did not see a need to create a false paradigm where all the conditional promises related to temporal salvation and all the unconditional promises related to eternal salvation.  Bunyan believed that salvation was both conditional and unconditional.

Bunyan continued:

"And as they harmoniously agree in this, so again the conditional promise blesseth the man, who by the absolute promise is endued with its fruit. As, for instance, the absolute promise maketh men upright; and then the conditional follows, saying, "Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord" (Psa 119:1). The absolute promise giveth to this man the fear of the Lord; and then the conditional followeth, saying, "Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord" (Psa 128:1). The absolute promise giveth faith, and then this conditional follows, saying, "Blessed is she that believed" (Zeph 3:12; Luke 1:45). The absolute promise brings free forgiveness of sins; and then says the condition, "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered" (Rom 4:7). The absolute promise says, that God's elect shall hold out to the end; then the conditional follows with his blessings, "He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (1 Peter 1:4-6; Matt 24:13)."

Today's Hardshells should retrace their steps and go back to the views of their forefathers who did not think that the conditional promises of salvation conflicted with the unconditional.  Bunyan and the old Baptists did not see the necessity of making all the conditional promises of salvation to deal with a temporal salvation.  Gowens may see the concoction of his modern Hardshell paradigm of "two salvations" as the only way to harmonize the conditional promises with the unconditional, but Bunyan and the old Baptists saw the harmony in a different manner.

Bunyan wrote:

"Thus do the promises gloriously serve one another and us, in this their harmonious agreement. Now, the promise under consideration is an absolute promise. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me." This promise therefore is, as is said, a big-bellied promise, and hath in itself all those things to bestow upon us that the conditional calleth for at our hands. They shall come! Shall they come? Yes, they shall come. But how, if they want those things, those graces, power, and heart, without which they cannot come? Why, Shall-come answereth all this, and all things else that may in this manner be objected. And here I will take the liberty to amplify things."

Rather than seeing how the conditional promises (conditional salvation) oppose the unconditional promises (unconditional salvation), as do modern Hardshells, Bunyan saw how they "gloriously serve one another."  He saw no need to create a paradigm of temporal versus eternal salvation.  He says that the unconditional promises "bestow upon us that the conditional calleth for at our hands."  He did not believe that the salvation that the "conditional calleth for" was different from what the unconditional supplies.

Bunyan continued:

"I told you before, that an absolute promise hath all conditional ones in the belly of it, and also provision to answer all those qualifications, that they propound to him that seeketh for their benefit. And it must be so; for if Shall-come be an absolute promise, as indeed it is, then it must be fulfilled upon every of those concerned therein. I say, it must be fulfilled, if God can by grace, and his absolute will, fulfil it. Besides, since coming and believing is all one, according to John 6:35, "He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst," then, when he saith they shall come, it is as much as to say, they shall believe, and consequently repent, to the saving of the soul."

Again, Bunyan says that the unconditional promises of salvation supply the "provision to answer" "all conditional ones."  He did not deny that faith and repentance were conditions of salvation, but believed that God's unconditional choice of individuals to salvation guaranteed the performance of the conditions.  It is therefore false for Gowens and the Hardshells to think that the only way to harmonize the unconditional promises with the conditional promises was to apply all the former to eternal salvation and all the latter to a "time salvation."

Bunyan continued:

""AND HIM THAT COMETH TO ME I will in no wise cast out. "By these words our Lord Jesus doth set forth yet more amply the great goodness of his nature towards the coming sinner. Before, he said, They shall come; and here he declareth, That with heart and affections he will receive them. But, by the way, let me speak one word or two to the seeming conditionality of this promise with which now I have to do. "And him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out." Where it is evident, may some say, that Christ's receiving us to mercy depends upon our coming, and so our salvation by Christ is conditional. If we come, we shall be received; if not, we shall not; for that is fully intimated by the words. The promise of reception is only to him that cometh. "And him that cometh." I answer, that the coming in these words mentioned, as a condition of being received to life, is that which is promised, yea, concluded to be effected in us by the promise going before. In those latter words, coming to Christ is implicitly required of us; and in the words before, that grace that can make us come is positively promised to us. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" thence. We come to Christ, because it is said, We shall come; because it is given to us to come. So that the condition which is expressed by Christ in these latter words is absolutely promised in the words before. And, indeed, the coming here intended is nothing else but the effect of "shall come to me. They shall come, and I will not cast them out.""  (Come and Welcome TO JESUS CHRIST; OR, A Plain and Profitable Discourse on John 6:37. Showing the cause, truth,and manner of the coming of a sinner to Jesus Christ; with his happy reception and blessed entertainment. L O N D O N, 1681)

In a word, Bunyan, like all the old Baptists, in affirming unconditional salvation did not deny that faith and repentance (conversion) was a necessary condition for salvation.

Benjamen Keach (1640-1704), a signer of the second London Confession, wrote:

"Therefore, Brethren, pray observe; we affirm, that whatsoever Conditions were agreed upon in the Covenant of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ undertook to do and perform them all, both for us, and also in us; I will give them a new Heart, I will take away the Stony Heart, and I will give them a Heart of Flesh, I will put my Fear into their Hearts, and they shall not depart from me. I will Circumcise their (Page 163) Hearts to love the Lord their God—He that hath begun a good Work in you, will perform it to the Day of Christ, who were born not of Flesh, nor of Blood, nor of the Will of Man, but of God. To believe is our Duty, but 'tis Christ that gives us Grace and Power so to do; and this Grace was also purchased for us by his Blood; He is exalted at God's Right Hand to be a Prince and a Savior, to give Repentance, &c. And Faith also is the Gift of God, Eph. 2.8."

Keach did not have the problem reconciling the conditional promises of salvation with the unconditional as do our modern Hardshells.  He saw faith and repentance as duties and conditions, but also saw that the meeting of these conditions was a result of God's unconditional promise, or to his election and predestination.

Keach continued:

5. Moreover, Who can believe that Christ would shed his Blood for such whom he knew would never answer those Conditions that these Men speak of? besides, they being Conditions out of their power to perform.

6. Moreover I might argue thus, i. e. If Christ died for all, he intended to save all, but he never intended to save all, therefore he died not for all: Who shall frustrate his Purpose, or Intention?
From hence we may infer, That in the Covenant of Peace, the Promises of God are Absolute; and that this Absoluteness implies, that all the Conditions that are required on the Creature's part, Grace is promised to them to perform them on God's part, Who works in us to will and to do of his own good Pleasure."

Keach argues the same way as did Bunyan.  They argued that salvation was both conditional and unconditional and they explain how this is so.

Keach continued:

"The Gospel doth not proclaim a Conditional Peace, or Reconciliation, or that God is only reconcilable; so that if the Sinner performs his part, God will be fully reconciled; that is, if the Sinner repents, believes is Regenerated, or answers the Rule of the Promise, as some speak. I know no such Conditional Gospel, or Proclamation; but those Conditions which Jesus Christ was to perform, which was not only to reconcile God to us, but us also to God: Can that be the Condition of Life on our part which Christ hath engaged in the Covenant to do? viz. to bring us into a State of Peace; Them I must bring—Nay, God hath promised to give us a new Heart, and put a new Spirit into us. Moreover, Christ is exalted to be a Prince, and a Savior, to give Repentance to Israel, and Remission of Sins."

When Keach states that the Gospel does not proclaim a conditional salvation, he does not mean that the Gospel does not promise salvation only to those who believe and repent, but he means that the conditions are not to be viewed as works done apart from God's eternal purpose and grace, or as meritorious works.  This is clear from what he has already stated and from what he says further in the balance of his writing on this subject.

Keach continued:

"Moreover, whatsoever Duties God requires of us as to our actual Justification, in our own Consciences, and as to our Sanctification-also, he hath promised to give us his Spirit to perform and work in us."

Notice that Keach does not deny that there are duties and conditions for justification and sanctification but denies that these are "conditions" in the general Arminian or Pelagian sense, for he believes that these conditions are guaranteed by God's eternal purpose in election.  This is the same thing that Elder Hassell stated in the previous citation from him.

Keach continued: 

"1. He commands us to Believe——and he hath promised to give us Faith so to do; For Faith is not of our selves, it is the Gift of God, to you it is given not only to believe, &c.

2. He hath commanded us to make us a new Heart, and he hath promised to give us a new Heart, and to put a new Spirit into us.

3. He commands us to love him, &c. and he hath promised to Circumcise our Hearts so to do, &c."

These are the same things that Bunyan pointed out.  Salvation is conditioned upon one being converted, but conversion occurs because of God's unconditional promise to effect it in his chosen.

Keach continued:

"All the Promises of the Covenant in the Promulgation of it, in its Original Nature, and as respecting us, expresses the Tenor of it as most Free and Absolute: Thus it was to Adam, to Abraham, to David; and to us; I will be your God, and you shall be my People: It is not you shall have Peace upon the Condition that you do this or that, ye shall be Pardon’s, or then be Justified; No, but quite otherwise; But he that worketh not, but believeth on him that Justifieth the ungodly: 'Tis not by our Obedience, or Duties, but by the Promises that we partake (Page 184) of the Divine Nature. 2 Pet. 1.4. &c. All is given absolutely of Free Grace. True, there are in the Covenant, Conditions of Connection; if a Man believes, he shall be saved; But who gives that Faith? Is it not God? Pray observe that Jesus Christ hath made our Peace, and Faith to receive the Atonement is given as an absolute Promise: Is not the Spirit so given? And pray, doth not God give the Spirit, before Faith can be exerted by us? Is not Faith the Fruit of the Spirit? And doth not the Fruit proceed from the Seed, and the Act flow from the Habit?"

In this place Keach explains more fully how salvation is "conditional" within the context of it being unconditional.  He refers to "conditions of connection."  In other words, God, in determining to save a man determines that this salvation result from faith and repentance which he determines to give.  Keach is arguing for the nature of the conditions of salvation.  For instance, we could say that domino B's falling down is conditioned upon domino A's falling down, but this type of condition is only a condition of connection and does not argue for an uncertain condition.

Keach continued:  

"Brethren, beware of them that Preach Peace to you, upon a Conditional Covenant; the Condition they speak of, is your Repentance, Faith, Regeneration, and Obedience.

And alas, who is able to perform these hard Conditions? Besides, this is to turn the Covenant of Grace, into a Covenant of Works; you must work for Justification and Peace, if you will have it; nay, and you shall be no further Justified, nor have Peace, than you are Sanctified, if you believe these Men’s Gospel."

When Keach argues against a "conditional covenant" he is denying that these conditions are left up to the free will of sinners and that they are meritorious.  He is denying that these conditions are in the power of fallen men to do apart from divine grace and compulsion.  He is not denying that conversion is a necessary condition of connection for being eternally saved.

Keach continued:  

"But we say that Peace is made, and God hath promised that he will give the Spirit, even pour it out upon Sinners; he first pours out the Spirit of Grace, and then the Sinners believe or look to him whom they pierced, and receive the Blessing of Peace, or have the Manifestation of it to their Consciences. There is no
Condition (saith Reverend Cotton) before (Page 185) Faith, but a Condition of Misery, a lost Condition: These Men render God like Pharaoh's Taskmasters, who would have their Tale of Brick, but find the Israelites no straw.

The Absoluteness of the Covenant (saith this Author) appears as to us, in that all the Federal, Entitling Conditions contain
ed in it, are found in another, i. e. in Christ, and not in us, neither wrought in us, nor by us; for,* whatsoever is wrought in us, is of Free Grace."

Again, Keach is not arguing against the idea that faith and repentance are conditions, but only against the idea that they are conditions such as men may do apart from effectual calling.

Keach continued:

"My Brethren, Doth a Child contribute any thing to its own Formation in the Womb? Alas, What is in us before we are Born again? And of his own Will begat he us, &c.

Object. But doth not the Gospel require Faith and Repentance, as the
Condition of Justification, and Eternal Life?

1 Answ. I told you but even now, there are Conditions of Connection by way of order and dependence of things one upon another (Page 186):

As in Logic (saith the same Reverend Divine) if a Creature be a Man, he is a Rational Creature; or if God be the first Cause, he is the Creator of all things: And in this sense (saith he) Creation is a Condition of Salvation; if a Man be Saved, he must be Created: So if a Man believe he shall be Saved, believing is a Condition of Connection, a State of Grace is thus a Condition to a State of Glory, by way of Connection in the Promise; but one is not the Federal Condition of another, but both come in as the Gift of Grace; in this sense the Covenant contains all the Conditions of Order and Dependence in the Exhibition and Performance; the hearing the Word is the Condition of Faith, but hearing is not a Federal Condition; so the giving the Spirit is the Condition of Union to Christ and Faith, and Faith the Condition of receiving of Pardon, and living in Holiness and the giving of Pardon the Condition of receiving it, and Holiness the Condition of seeing God, and of having Eternal Happiness; but these kind of Conditions are not Federal Entitling Conditions to the Promise, but are contained in the Promise, and denote the Connection and Dependence of one promised Benefit upon another."

Keach's explanation of how salvation is both conditional and unconditional is that which the Hardshells should have accepted rather than trying to affirm that faith and repentance were no conditions, in any sense, for being eternally saved.  Hassell was in league with the old Baptists in his remarks on the subject and today's Hardshells, like Gowens, should accept his explanation rather than rejecting it and creating a paradigm that says that the unconditional promises pertain to eternal salvation but the conditional promises pertain to a temporal salvation.  Today's Hardshells have departed from the old Baptist faith on this issue.

Keach continued: 

"2. God requires Faith and Repentance of them that shall be saved; but (1.) Not that the Creature can do either of these of himself, but to show he will work Faith and Repentance in all whom he will save, or as he hath ordained the End, so he hath also ordained the Means. (Page 187)

(2.) But not that either of these are procuring, or Federal Conditions of the Covenant blessings, or of Salvation, because all the Graces of the Spirit are contained in the Covenant as part of it; therefore, neither Faith, Repentance, Regeneration, as the Creatures Part or Work, can be Conditions of it."

Keach does not deny that faith and repentance are necessary for eternal salvation but argues that these conditions are guaranteed to be met with by the elect in their being effectually called.  He is denying that salvation is conditional in the Pelagian sense.

Keach continued:

"These Men call Faith, &c. such a Condition, that the Mercies granted are suspended till we perform the Condition. It is therefore, saith he, no more than an Act of ours. True, we have a good Bargain, as a Man that gives but Twenty Guineas of his own
, Purchases an Hundred Pounds per Annum.

Brethren, (as our Author observes) We must distinguish of the Ministry of Reconciliation, in respect of the Letter of it, and the Spirit of it, 1 Cor. 3.6. in the Letter of it, or mere external Dispensation it kills, because the Sinner looks upon all these Conditions of dependence, Federal Conditions, but the Spirit in its Ministry is absolute, according to the Original Contract, and the fullest Discovery in its highest freedom; therefore the Apostle says, The Spirit gives Life. The believing Corinthians, are said to be the Epistle of Christ, written and transcribed from the Original-Covenant Contract; Not with Ink, but with the Spirit of the Living God. Therefore:

From hence we must distinguish between the Covenant in its Absolute Tenure, and the Ministry thereof, which is Conditionally dispensed, according to the Connection, Order, and Dependence of good Things contained (Page 188) in the Promise to a mixed People: The Effects of the Ministry will either soften or harden, it will either work effectually by the Ministry of the Spirit, according to the Nature of an Absolute Promise, and unto such it becomes a Savoir of Life, unto Life, or else it works only in the Letter, and unto such it Kills, or is a Savoir of Death unto Death, or an Aggravation of Death and Condemnation: But all its Divine Efficacy is according to the Purpose, Will, and Good Pleasure of God. But having occasionally spoken much before of the Absoluteness of the Covenant, I shall say no more, but Conclude at this Time. (SERMON VIII - Showing when the Covenant did Commence; also the Nature of the Covenant opened - See here)

Thus, from the writings of the old Baptists we see how they believed that the same salvation was both conditional and unconditional and this is the view that today's so-called Primitive Baptists need to return unto.

Elect "Gospel Rejectors"?

Not long ago the question arose in the debate between Brothers Stephen and Jason about whether those of the elect who do get to hear the gospel will receive or reject it. I responded with my own thoughts on the matter, stating that I did not feel it to be the prevailing opinion among the Primitive Baptists that the elect will definitely receive it if they hear it.

I just recently found this explicit statement contained within a 2008 circular letter to support my opinion.

"We reject the teaching that all regenerate persons will respond favorably to preaching regarding Christ when they hear it."

Telling, isn't it, especially considering the scriptures have this to say:

"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel..." (Col 1:21-23)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Chpt. 118 - Passive or Active?

"He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life." (I John 5: 12)

The word "hath" (echō) means to have or to hold, to have (hold) in the hand, to have or hold in the sense of wearing, to have (hold) possession of the mind, to hold fast, keep, to have or comprise or involve. Thus, to "have" Christ is to lay hold of Christ with the heart, mind, and understanding. It is a cognitive "having." It is simply preposterous to affirm that heathens "have" Christ even though they have no knowledge or faith in him.  "Hath" in Greek is indicative present active voice.  Again, the active voice shows that the whole of regeneration is not passive.

"Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein."  (Mark 10: 15)

This passage has traditionally been used by Hardshell apologists and debaters to prove that adults are saved the same way as infants, and "receive" the kingdom (are born again) the same way as do infants.  Besides the fact that the "infants" here are not newborns but toddlers, the word "receive" is from the Greek word "dechomai" and is in the middle voice and denotes what one does himself and for himself.  Thus, since the Hardshells make this "receiving" of the kingdom to be another way of expressing regeneration, then they can hardly argue that regeneration is entirely passive.

This Greek word dechomai originally meant “to actively take hold of something.”  In that sense it is parallel to lambano.  It came to to denote receiving, believing, or welcoming. The word dechomai generally seems to emphasize the giver, while lambano seems to reflect an active participation by the receiver, but in the above verse dechomai is an exception.

The theological thrust of all this is that sinners must receive, believe, welcome the Lord Jesus. Salvation involves welcoming a person, believing the truth about that person, and then living a life emulating that person.

The active vs. passive debate is intimately connected with the debate over the nature of the regeneration experience.  The regeneration experience is described in scripture by its effects, which are to love and know God.  But, love for God and knowledge of him cannot be divorced from the activity of the mind.  In loving and knowing God the mind is active in its contemplation and embracing of Christ. 

The nature of the new heart and spirit, created in regeneration, implies a believing, knowing, and loving heart.

"And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know (eido) me, from the least to the greatest."  (Heb. 8: 11)

The second use of the word "know" is from the Greek word "eidō" and is future perfect, active voice.  It is not a passive knowledge but an active knowledge.  All Hardshells interpret this coming to "know" the Lord to be a description of the regeneration experience.  But, in doing so, they cannot claim that regeneration is entirely passive.  The word means "to perceive."  It is an active, not a passive, perception.

"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."  (I John 4: 6) 

In this verse "knoweth" is from "ginōskō" and means to learn to know, come to know, get a knowledge of, perceive,  to understand.  Again, the Greek word for know is in the active voice and is not, therefore, a passive unconscious knowledge.

In defining the nature of the change in being regenerated it is necessary to define life and death. Without action there is no life.  If there be no action of the heart, lungs, or brain, of a physical body, it cannot be said to be alive.  Likewise, if there be no action of the spirit or mind there can be no spiritual life.  Thus, the "life" of the regenerated, according to Hardshellism, is no life at all, but is rather a description of death. 

"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: 44, 45)

Though the Greek word for "draw" and "taught" are in the passive voice, yet the words for "learned," "come,"  and "heard" are all in the active voice.   This clearly shows that some aspects of regeneration are passive and some aspects are active.  

"But if any man love God, the same is known of him."  (I Cor. 8: 3)

The Greek word for love (agape) in this passage is in the active voice.  Thus, if being regenerated is defined as being made to love God, then regeneration is in some respects active.

Charles Hodge in writing upon "Regneration," wrote:

"Regeneration is an act of God...Regeneration, subjectively considered, or viewed as an effect or change wrought in the soul, is not an act."   (See Here)

But, the scriptures do not define regeneration by the cause or act of God, but by the effect of the act of God.  If regeneration were defined by the cause or act of God alone, then God would be the one who experiences regeneration, and not the sinner.  Regeneration, in scripture, is a word that denotes the actual change of heart in sinners.

B.H. Carroll, in a message titled "THE HUMAN SIDE OF REGENERATION" (1894) wrote:

"I never hesitate to declare my own convictions when I have any that are clear to my own mind and are regarded as worth the telling. Let me say then, here and now and emphatically, that I believe, without the shadow of a doubt, that God’s Spirit deals with man’s spirit directly, immediately--the impact of naked Spirit on spirit. And this not only as a preparation for conviction, repentance, and faith, but oftentimes after one becomes a child of God. But I do not call this influence regeneration."

Carroll believed that the Spirit operated on the spirit of man "directly" and "immediately," but he also believed that the same operation was mediated by the preaching of the gospel.  He also did not see those things that are a "preparation" for regeneration to be regeneration itself, nor that the "influence" that brings about regeneration could be called regeneration.  He did not define regeneration by the cause alone.

Carroll wrote:

"In the new birth there are at least two distinct ideas. First, cleansing; second, renewing. If you took only the idea of cleansing and left out the renewing, cleansing would not do any good. The sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mire, because she is a sow. If you do not change her nature, then you do no good to cleanse her. But if you change the nature and do not cleanse, then you have left purity imprisoned in filth. So there are two ideas always, at least two, in the new birth: First, cleansing; second, renewing."

Hardshell regeneration omits cleansing from regeneration, for cleansing is "by the word."  (Eph. 5: 26)  Whatever God does "by the word" is excluded from Hardshell "regeneration." 

Carroll continues:

"And now you say: “How can any one be born again? How can these things be?” Well, it is just in this way; Jesus Christ is lifted up before you as your substitute in death and judgment, and by his offering himself for you, your trusting that and accepting that, the result is that, whenever you do from your heart accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, you are born again. Whosoever believeth is born of God. And in the place of all the mystery in connection with the new birth, the plain and simple explanation is just this--that the washing is to be by the word, and I am to preach the word, and you are to hear the word, and you are to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and trust him. That is the human side of it, and it is the explanation given by the Lord Jesus Christ himself."

Clearly Carroll reflected the old Baptist view that did not separate regeneration from conversion and did not make it all a passive experience.

Carroll wrote:

"I have tried to pursue a method entirely my own in this discussion, and to strip it of all the theological crusts that have encased it and to knock off the scales that have been fastened upon it, and at least get it before you in such a way that you can understand what you are to do. You from your heart accept the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. When that is done you are saved. We have a God who loves us; we have a Savior who gave his life for us. We have a Savior who seeks; we have a Saviour who holds out his hands and says: “Come unto me.” All of you come."  (The full manuscript may be found in "Sermons and Life Sketch of B.H. Carroll, D.D." - Compiled by the Rev. J. B. Cranfield, American Baptist Publication Society, 1895 - Carroll's text was John 3:9)

Again, Carroll did not separate the soul's active reception of Christ from the experience of being born again. 

Dr. John Owen wrote:

"Besides, as I suppose, it is equally confessed to be an effect or work of grace, the actual dispensation whereof is solely in the hand of the Holy Spirit...But at present we shall make use of this general concession, that regeneration is the work of the Holy Ghost, or an effect of his grace."

Here Owen properly identifies "regeneration" as the "effect" of God's work, what is "actually" wrought and experienced. 

Owen continues:

"I shall, therefore, in general, refer the whole work of the Spirit of God with respect unto the regeneration of sinners unto two heads:— First, That which is preparatory for it; and, secondly, That which is effective of it. That which is preparatory for it is the conviction of sin; this is the work of the Holy Spirit, John xvi. 8."

Again, Owen does not falsely confuse regeneration with what is "preparatory" to it, nor does he desribe "regeneration" as involving simply the cause, but also included what is "effective of it." 

Owen continues:

"This is the whole of what we plead: God in our conversion, by the exceeding greatness of his power, as he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead, actually worketh faith and repentance in us, gives them unto us, bestows them on us; so that they are mere effects of his grace in us. And his working in us infallibly produceth the effect intended, because it is actual faith that he works, and not only a power to believe, which we may either put forth and make use of or suffer to be fruitless, according to the pleasure of our own wills."

Again, Owen does not do as the Hardshells and define regeneration as being the act of God which produces regeneration but includes what is the actual effect of such act of God.  He does not say that faith and repentance come after regeneration, but are integral elements of it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Staple Passages Believed in Pretense

Let’s face it. All who hold to some flavor of Calvinism know that there are key passages of scripture which are often set forth as proof of the TULIP scheme. The eighth and ninth chapter of Romans, the second chapter of Ephesians, the sixth chapter of John, for example, are staple portions of God's Word used to uphold the glorious teachings of God’s sovereignty and grace. It doesn’t take long for one who comes to some Calvinistic position to see these passages as the marquee pillars upholding this gracious scheme.

I derived much comfort from these bible texts for many years while I was among my brethren in the Primitive Baptists. I noticed how the ministers used to harp on these verses in sermons over and over again, much to the delight of the congregation. I can’t even begin to count the number of references to Matthew 1:21, Eph. 2:8, John 6:37, John 10:28 that I heard. As I come to a better understanding of the teaching of conditional time salvation, however, I came to realize that they really did not believe these very verses they so boldly preach. Having eliminated the subjective reality from the salvation scheme, a portion only of the text is believed, and not its entirety. One cannot believe in the modern scheme of time salvation and adhere to the truth, the WHOLE truth, declared by those powerful texts in the Bible.

I repeat. You cannot believe in conditional time salvation and believe in these verses at the same time!

The fact that this heresy has consumed much of the Primitives, but yet these staple verses are still being boldly proclaimed, is an example of the confusion prevailing among those who do not really know what this heresy is and what it compromises.

Let us demonstrate what we are asserting.

Matthew 1:21 reads:

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins”.

The Primitive Baptists are correct in recognizing the importance of this passage of God's Word. In a day in which many question the effectual work of Christ at the cross, it is good to trumpet forth the truth that those for whom Christ died shall in fact be saved. Unfortunately for those who espouse conditional time salvation, the text is detrimental to this doctrine. Dear reader, you will notice that the passage claims that Jesus saves his people from their sins, and not simply from hell! This is a crucial observation. To be "saved from sin" amounts to more than just going to heaven, which is all this heresy ensures. It takes into account the present life, and involves coming to a state of subjective conversion, something which conditional time salvation renders unnecessary. To be "saved from sin" does not mean simply being delivered from God's wrath on the day of judgment and living in glory forevermore. It means to be delivered from the habitual practice of sin and unbelief in this present world. In other words, the timely phase of our salvation occurs! It is not a separate and distinct salvation, but part and parcel of the progressive development of eternal salvation.

One of the worst consequences of conditional time salvation, therefore, is its portrayal of the Christ. Contained in his saving work is a guarantee ONLY of being rescued from the penalty of sin on the day of judgment, and not from the power and dominion of it in the present life! A person may experience only a positional change in regeneration and continue to live in a state of "unconversion" for the whole of his life. This is a woeful misrepresentation both of the work and person of the Son of God. It fails to recognize that the redeeming work of Christ was done not simply to populate heaven, but to "purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Titus 2:14). Conditional time salvation only guarantees the elect shall make it to heaven with no concern whatsoever as to how they arrive. It presents Jesus as a Savior from hell, but not necessarily one from sin! And this is the kind of "Savior" that the hypothetical unconverted regenerate has.

On the other hand, to recognize that the "timely blessings" of faith, repentance, and holiness do in fact FOLLOW (i.e. conversion actually happens) the redeeming work of Christ is to speak of a Savior who truly saves his people from their sins!

John 6:37:

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.”

This is as well a primary verse in the doctrines of grace arsenal. Our Hardshell brethren use this text to support the true notion that none of God's elect shall perish. The question, however, which our innovators need to ask themselves here is what does it mean to "come to Christ"? A contextual view reveals that it means believing in Him. Advocates of conditional time salvation claim though that there are multiplied millions of God's elect who go to heaven having never known, or even heard of Christ Jesus! With his own words Jesus destroys such erroneous teaching. He teaches us that being brought to Christ is the definite effect of eternal election, meaning it shall take place!

This text is as much against conditional time salvation as any passage explicitly connecting the gospel with eternal salvation.

John 10:27:

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:”

The difficulty facing our innovators in this place is the affirmation that following Christ is the effect of regeneration. Our ultraists do not really believe these words of Christ. What is actually believed is that upon hearing the voice of Christ, the sheep may or may not follow him. According to the conditional time salvation heresy, there are so-called "regenerates" who continue in live in heathendom, unbelief, and totally reject Christ! They "heard the voice of Christ" but did not proceed to follow the one who called them! Based on the authority of Christ's teaching we know that such characters do not exist, but are a mere fabrication produced by a heresy!

The sheep hear and the sheep follow!

Eph. 2:8:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:”

Eph. 2:8 has always been one of the champion passages of regeneration. Though the cause of the new birth is here set forth as being ‘by grace’, it is not by a grace which fails to provide the subjective element. The rule is that sinners are saved by grace thru faith, and not at the expense of it. It is entirely sad that some have gone to such extremes on conditional time salvation that this gracious truth is now being denied.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Come Ye Sinners?

Awhile back brother Fralick wrote about the inconsistency between the teachings of the Hardshells and some of the songs they nevertheless sing. I have also felt the same way. One of the songs the Hardshells sing but which they would never preach is this song.

Come, ye sinners, poor and needy
Weak and wounded, sick and sore
Jesus ready, stands to save you
Full of pity, love and power

Notice how the song addresses sinners and invites them to "come" to Jesus. But, should a preacher address sinners this way he would be called an "Arminian"! If a Hardshell preacher would tell sinners that Jesus stands ready to save them, they would call him "Arminian."

I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O, there are ten thousand charms

These words advise the sinner to arise and go to Jesus, but you will never hear Hardshell preachers giving this advice to sinners while preaching.

Come, ye thirsty, come and welcome
God`s free bounty glorify
True belief and true repentance
Every grace that brings you nigh

The message of the song is that "true belief and true repentance" is what will bring you nigh to Jesus and salvation. How can Hardshells sing this and yet preach against it at the same time? The song says "come" but the messages of Hardshell preachers do not say "come."

Come, ye weary, heavy-laden
Lost and ruined by the fall
If you tarry `til you`re better
You will never come at all

Come you "lost" and "ruined" sinners? They will sing this message but they will not preach it? Bidding sinners not to "tarry" but to come now?

I will arise and go to Jesus
He will embrace me in His arms
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O, there are ten thousand charms

Come to Jesus sinners! He will embrace you in his arms? You will never hear a Hardshell preacher end his sermon with such words of invitation. Yet, their oldest preachers did not shun from inviting sinners.

See Him Prostate in the garden
On the ground your Maker lies
On the bloody tree, behold him
Sinner, will this not suffice?

Persuading sinners to come to Jesus for salvation? How can Hardshells sing this but not preach it?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pink vs. Pink

In our recent series on "Regeneration - Mediate or Immediate?" we cited these words of A. W. Pink:

"There is a strict analogy between the natural birth and the spiritual: necessarily so, for God is the Author of them both, and He ordained that the former should adumbrate the latter."

But, we find that Pink said this in his book "The Doctrine of Salvation" (pg. 26):

"When treating of regeneration under the figure of the new birth, some writers have introduced analogies from natural birth which Scripture by no means warrants, in fact disallows."

The latter words condemn the former words of Pink, thus pitting Pink against Pink.

Chpt. 117 - Passive or Active?

The fact that men are passive in regeneration and conversion is taught in scripture and in the oldest Calvinistic confessions. The old writers and confessions taught that man was in some respect passive in salvation, but was also, in some respects, active. They acknowledged man to be active in conversion, in his actual turning to the Lord. The fact that the scriptures do not separate or distinguish between regeneration and conversion, as the modern day theologians, forces us to confess that regeneration or conversion has its passive as well as its active aspects.

Let us notice these passages of scripture.

"Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, saith the Lord GOD. Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin. Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and live ye." (Eze. 18: 30-32)

"Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked." (Deut. 10: 16)

"Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench it, because of the evil of your doings." (Jer. 4: 4)

It shows dishonesty and rebellion to these scriptures to deny that they are all speaking of the same experience, to that experience chiefly called, in the New Testament, a being "born of God," or to a "regeneration" and the "renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3: 5) or to spiritual "transformation."   

It was in response to such passages that Dr. Alvah Hovey wrote:

"The simple fact is, that man is both active and passive in regeneration. The first series of texts brings to view his activity; the second, his passivity. Man is active in thinking upon the truth, in exercising his sensibilities in relation to it, and in giving up his heart to God; he is passive in that he is acted upon by the truth, and also by the Holy Spirit. He both acts and is acted upon."  (See "Examination of the Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible" By John W. Haley, Alvah Hovey - Here)

Arminians are often not willing to acknowledge the unconditionality or undeserved aspect of the work of God in transforming sinners into the image of Christ.  (Rom. 8: 29)  Hyper Calvinists and Hardshells are unwilling, on the other hand, to acknowledge the conditionality of the transforming experience.  However, by examining all of the above passages of scripture it is clear that the transforming experience described is both what God promises to do, and actually does, by sovereign will and gracious pleasure, through unconditional love and unmerited favor, and also what is the duty and privilege of fallen men.  Circumcision of heart is both unconditional and conditional, though not in the same sense, and is both the result of the will of God and of the sinner.

Is there a real contradiction between God commanding men to make themselves a new heart and spirit and to Circumcise their hearts, and God doing the same thing?

On Ezekiel 18: 30-32 Dr. Gill wrote:

"...not of the first work of internal conversion, which is by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; though, were both exhorted to, it would not prove that these are in the power of men, only show the want and necessity of them, and so be the means of God's bringing his chosen people to them."

On Deuteronomy 10: 16 Gill wrote:

"Content not yourselves with, nor put your confidence in outward circumcision of the flesh, but be concerned for the circumcision of the heart; for removing from that whatever is disagreeable to the Lord, even all carnality, sensuality, hypocrisy, and superfluity of naughtiness, and for having that put there which is well pleasing in his sight; and which though it is the work of God, and he only can do it and has promised it, yet such an exhortation is made to bring men to a sense of their need of it, and of the importance of it, and to show how agreeable it is to the Lord, and so to stir them up to seek unto him for it."

On Jeremiah 4: 4 Gill wrote:

"...this is the true spiritual circumcision; and they that are possessed of it are the circumcision, the only truly circumcised persons; and they are such who have been pricked to the heart, and thoroughly convinced of sin; who have had the hardness of their hearts removed, and the impurity of it laid open to them; which they have beheld with shame and loathing, and have felt an inward pain on account of it; and who have been enabled to deny themselves, to renounce their own righteousness, and put off the body of the sins of the flesh: and though men are exhorted to do this themselves, yet elsewhere the Lord promises to do it for them, ( Deuteronomy 30:6 ) , and indeed it is purely his own work; or otherwise it could not he called, as it is, "circumcision without hands", and "whose praise is not of man, but of God", ( Colossians 2:11 ) ( Romans 2:29 ), and the reason of this exhortation, as before, is to convince those Jews, who were circumcised in the flesh, and rested and gloried in that, that their hearts were not circumcised, and that there was a necessity of it, and they in danger for want of it; as follows: lest my fury come forth like fire;  to which the wrath of God is sometimes compared, ( Nahum 1:6 ) and is sometimes signified by a furnace and lake of fire, even his eternal wrath and vengeance: and burn that none can quench it;  such is the fire of divine wrath; it is unquenchable; it is everlasting, ( Mark 9:43 Mark 9:44 ) ( Matthew 3:12 ) ( 25:41 )."

Dr. A. H. Strong wrote:

"The Scriptural view is that regeneration, so far as it secures an activity of man, is accomplished through the instrumentality of the truth. Although the Holy Spirit does not in any way illuminate the truth, he does illuminate the mind, so that it can perceive the truth. In conjunction with the change of man's inner disposition, there is an appeal to man's rational nature through the truth. Two inferences may be drawn:

(a) Man is not wholly passive at the time of his regeneration. He is passive only with respect to the change of his ruling disposition. With respect to the exercise of this disposition, he is active. Although the efficient power which secures this exercise of the new disposition is the power of God, yet man is not therefore unconscious, nor is he a mere machine worked by God's fingers. On the other hand, his whole moral nature under God's working is alive and active. We reject the "exercise-system," which regards God as the direct author of all man's thoughts, feelings, and volitions, not only in its general tenor, but in its special application to regeneration.

(b) The activity of man's mind in regeneration is activity in view of the truth. God secures the initial exercise of the new disposition which he has wrought in man's heart in connection with the use of truth as a means. Here we perceive the link between the efficiency of God and the activity of man. Only as the sinner's mind is brought into contact with the truth, does God complete his regenerating work. And as the change of inward disposition and the initial exercise of it are never, so far as we know, separated by any interval of time, we can say, in general, that Christian work is successful only as it commends the truth to every man's conscience in the sight of God (2 Cor. 4: 2)."

In Eph. 1:17,18, there is recognized the divine illumination of the mind to behold the truth —" may give unto you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him; having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling." On truth as a means of regeneration, see Hovey, Outlines, 102, who quotes Cunningham, Historical Theology, 1:617 —"Regeneration may be taken in a limited sense as Including only the first lmpartatlon of spiritual life or It may be taken in a wider sense as comprehending the whole of that process by which he is renewed or made over again in the whole man after theimage of God — i. e., as Including the production of saving faith and union to Christ. Only In the first sense did the Reformers maintain that man in the process was whollypassive and not active; for they did not dispute that, before the process in the second and more enlarged sense was completed, man was spiritually alive and active, and continued so ever after during the whole process of his sanctiflcution."

Dr. Hovey suggests an apt illustration of these two parts of the Holy Spirit's work and their union in regeneration: At the same time that God makes the photographic plate sensitive, he pours in the light of truth whereby the Image of Christ is formed in the soul. Without the "sensitizing" of the plate, it would never fix the rays of light so as to retain the Image. In the process of "sensitizing," the plate is passive; under the influence of light, it is active. In both the "sensitizing" and the taking of the picture, the real agent is not the plate nor the light, but the photographer. The photographer cannot perform both operations at the same moment. God can. He gives the new affection, and at the same Instant be secures Its exercise in view of the truth.

For denial of the instrumentality of truth in regeneration, see Pierce, In Bap. 1,'nar.. Jan., 1872: 52. Per contra, see Anderson, Regeneration, 89-122. H. B. Smith holds middle ground. He says: "In adults it [regeneration] is wrought most frequently by the word of God as the instrument. Believing that Infants may be regenerated, we cannot assert that it is tied to the word of God absolutely." We prefer to say that, if infants are regenerated, they also are regenerated in conjunction with some influence of truth upon the mind, dim as the recognition of it may be. Otherwise we break the Scriptural connection between regeneration and conversion, and open the way for faith in a physical, magical, sacramental salvation. Squier, Autobiog., 368, says well, of the theory of regeneration which makes man purely passive, that it has a benumbing effect upon preaching: "The lack of expectation unnerves the efforts of the preacher; an impression of the fortuitous presence neutralizes his engagedness. This antinomian dependence on the Spirit extracts all vitality from the pulpit and sense of responsibility from the hearer, and makes preaching an opus operatum, like the baptismal regeneration of the formalist."

Squier goes to the opposite extreme of regarding the truth alone as the cause of regeneration. His words are none the less a valuable protest against the view that regeneration is so entirely due to God that in no part of it is man active." (Systematic Theology pg. 455-459, See here)

There is no need to prove that the sinner is in some respect passive in salvation since Greek verbs and participles used to describe it are in the passive voice.  For instance, John says that those who receive (active voice, meaning to accept) Christ are they who were "born of God."  (John 1: 12, 13)  The word "born" is passive voice.  No one births, creates, or resurrects themselves.  People are passive in being born, created, and resurrected. 

But, even in this passage John speaks of being born of God as occurring at the same time that sinners "receive" Christ. 

"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) 

The word "receive" in verse 12 is from the Greek word "lambano."  This word means "to take," "to take with the hand, lay hold of," to "accept" or to "welcome."  It means "to claim or procure for one's self."  It means "to receive what is offered," or "not to refuse or reject."  It also signifies to "seize" or to "grab." It is in the active voice and thus is not a passive acceptance.  This same Greek word, as we shall see, is used in many passages in the New Testament in connection with being saved.  John is saying that those who "received" Christ actively were passively born of God.  John thus shows us that salvation and being born of God has both an active and a passive aspect. 

There is a another Greek word sometimes translated as "receive" and that is the Greek word "dechomai" and which often is in the passive voice, but lambano is very active, particularly when it is strengthened as in paralambano.  If the New Testament writers wanted to affirm that "receiving" salvation was strictly a passive receiving, they would have used "dechomai" in the passive voice.  But, they most often used "lambano" in the active voice. 

The first use of "received" in the above passage is paralambano, the second is lambano. The whole mood of this passage is active. To "receive not" is to reject. This is not passive indifference but violent rejection. The positive is also the case, for "lambano" and its derivatives do not denote passive reception but the active "taking hold of."  These active Greek verbs are sometimes translated as "take" or "take hold of" in addition to "receive." 

"As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him."  (Col. 2: 6) 

"And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement."  (Rom. 5: 11)

"For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father."  (Rom. 8: 15)

"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)

"But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."  (I John 2: 27)

Who can deny that these verses deal with regeneration?  And, that they show that man is not merely passive, in all respects, but active. 

Further, repentance and faith, throughout scripture, are necessary conditions for salvation, and faith and repentance are active voice verbs.

If regeneration is defined in scripture as including the effects as well as the causes, then sinners are both passive and active.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Regeneration - Broad and Narrow?

In the writings of some Calvinists and those of the Reformed dogma, such as Gill, Hodge, Shedd, etc., there is affirmation that "regeneration" may be defined in a narrow sense and in a broad sense. But, the question is - do they affirm that the scriptures use the word "regeneration" in both these ways, or do they affirm that it is theologians who use the term in both ways?

The word regeneration is only used in two places in scripture and yet none of the theologians who believe in two usages and definitions for the term confess that the two places in scripture use it in its theologically restricted sense. Thus, when they affirm that regeneration has two significations, they cannot mean that this is so with the biblical writers, but only is so with the theologians in their writings.

"And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Matt. 19: 28)

"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost." (Titus 3: 5)

The former verse speaks of the regeneration of the planet, of the world, when things will be restored per the words of Peter - "until the times of restitution of all things."  (Acts 3: 21)  Paul also spoke of this:

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."  (Rom. 8: 21, 22)

The whole creation will experience a rebirth, a regeneration, a deliverance.

The latter verse speaks of regeneration as it pertains to individuals now as they are saved, washed, and renewed.  If this verse speaks of a narrowly defined regeneration, then where is the broadly defined definition of regeneration used in scripture?  If this verse speaks of a broadly defined regeneration, then where is the narrowly defined definition of regeneration used in scripture?

Even if we equate the words "born again," "begat," and "begotten" with the word "regeneration," where is there proof that these terms have both a broad and narrow definition?

Clearly there are not two definitions of regeneration or rebirth in scripture.  Thus, when theologians say that regeneration may be taken in a narrow and in a broad sense, they clearly are not referring to its usage in scripture, but to its usage by some theologians.  In fact, many of those theologians who refer to a narrow and broad definition of regeneration will nevertheless admit that the scriptures do not make such a distinction.  Further, one must be careful in reading the writings of theologians who say - "if we take regeneration in its narrow usage (by the theologians), where it refers to the first act of God or to the first principles of grace infused into the soul, then regeneration precedes faith and conversion."  Of course one could affirm that regeneration precedes faith if one defines it in such a sense.  But, that does not mean that regeneration, as it is defined in scripture, precedes faith.