Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brown's Hermeneutics

Jason Brown has attempted to respond (see here) to our last posting about John 5: 40 and how it, and other chapters in the Gospel of John, "uproot Hardshellism."  But, Jason has again miserably failed.

Jason wrote:

"Part of the difficulty of the current discussion with Brother Garrett is defining terms."

Jason got that almost right!  But, it is not my "defining terms" that is the problem, but of Jason and the Hardshells.  Anyone who has followed this discussion knows that it is Jason who wants to define words like "faith" in numerous unbiblical ways.  He certainly is guilty of invalid equivocation.

Jason wrote:

"...he does not believe that the non-elect must be morally capable of believing the gospel in order for it to be incumbent upon them to believe, nor should he."

I take this to be another statement of agreement from Jason.  Good!  Will Jason offer "constructive criticism" to those Hardshells who do not preach to the unbelievers, and who do not call upon them to believe in Christ?  This is what Elder John Clark also taught when he was Editor of Zion's Advocate and today's Hardshells need to heed what he wrote.  (see here)

Jason wrote:

"Man is ultimately responsible for sin, and rejecting eternal life. There is, therefore, nothing unwarranted about saying that the non-elect are called by the gospel to believe in this sense; otherwise, why are they judged in 2 Thess. 1:7-9 for gospel rejection?"

In making comments like this Jason is not talking like traditional Hardshells.  One wonders, however, whether he left himself an escape with the weasel words "in this sense."  In what sense?  He speaks of the non-elect "rejecting eternal life."  How can they reject it if they never had it offered to them?

Jason wrote:

"I, personally, agree with Garrett here, as the duty the non-elect have to believe the gospel surely rests on the same grounds."

But, believe the Gospel for what purpose?  Do they also have the privilege to believe it for salvation?  Also, Jason says that he "personally" agrees with me.  Does this mean that most of his Hardshell brethren don't agree with him or me?

Jason wrote:

"On the other hand, Brother Garrett surely should be able to be open to the sense in which this "offer" of eternal life to the non-elect seems duplicitous since it is not attended effectually with the spirit. It seems problematic to see this "offer" as an example of the "loving kindness" of God when God surely knows that they are dead in their sins, though it is man's fault."

But, it is not I who has the seeming difficulty, but Jason.  I have already given examples to show how an offer of pardon can be offered in kindness even though there is no compelling persuasion operating equally on all to accept the pardon.

Jason wrote:

"How can any act be thought of as "kind" when it is not logically possible that it will result in the intended effect? It would be different if Christ didn't know otherwise." 

I already answered this and Jason needs to go back and read.  The kindness of a deed does not depend upon how it is received or perceived. 

Jason wrote:

"Therefore, and especially because of the context of the various passages, it seems to me that Christ is pronouncing judgment on the non-elect by these references to an "available" salvation for them."

He is first and foremost offering the lost an opportunity to be saved, an act of kindness.  And, of course, he offers judgment to those who refuse his proffered kindness. 

Jason wrote:

"As an aside, What does Brother Garrett mean by God 'making provision' for the non-elect? If he means provisions of what is commonly referred to as "common grace" in terms of the rain falling on the just and the unjust, I would agree. But if he means that Christ's atonement embraced every individual man, then Brother Garrett has departed from Scripture. Are you saying that, like Fuller, Brother Garrett?"

I mean exactly what Paul meant when he wrote:

"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe."  (I Tim. 4: 10)

Obviously God is the provisional Savior of all men.  Christ is available to save any who call upon his name.  Obviously an offer of eternal life and salvation is a general provision.  Jason has even agreed with this.  So, why the problem?  I do not believe that the Atonement of Christ was universal and do not believe that it has to be so to make a genuine offer of salvation to all.  It is true to say - "if you believe in Christ, then he will die for you."  Certainly this would have been the message to OT folk.  And, when Christ did die, there was no need to die for those who were already condemned and in torment.  Today we may say to every sinner that "if you believe, then Christ died for you, bearing the guilt and punishment rightly due to you."

Jason wrote:

"It is not possible that they could be eternally delivered, and Christ is not offering his atonement to the non-elect by John 5:40, as eternal deliverance proceeds directly from Christ's atonement, not man's belief, which is the confirmation of that reality."

Again, it seems that Jason will not admit that it is eternal salvation that is promised to those who believe.  Christ tells the lost that they will be saved if they believe.  One cannot disconnect eternal salvation from the atonement.  An offer of salvation is an offer of atonement.  Just because the offer of atonement and salvation is offered to all does not mean all were atoned!

Jason wrote:

"The emphasis of 5:40 that Brother Garrett wants to make requisite in gospel preaching requires the premise that it is upon gospel belief that eternal life is given, which cannot follow from 5:37,38 or 5:24. The statement of Christ, "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life (John 5:40)," is assumed by Brother Garrett to imply that eternal life is fully contingent on belief." 

"Coming to" Christ is equated with believing in Christ and Jesus says that men come to him (believe in him) "that they might have life."  Let Jason show us that this life is not eternal life.  I don't know how the passage can be any clearer.  Jason says that I interpret the words of Christ to mean that eternal life is contingent on belief, but that is clearly the teaching of the passage.  The reason for not having life is that "you will not" do as I advise, will not come to me.

Jason wrote:

"It is clear from John 5:37,38 that belief is fully contingent of having the Father's word abiding in one, as he clearly states, "And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.""

There is no chronological separating of "belief" and "having the Father's word abiding in one."  They to together.  That is what Christ is saying.  If one has faith, he has the word.  If one has the word abiding within, then he has faith.  Again, this is eisegesis. 

Jason wrote:

"It is not that Christ is implying that they could be eternally saved at that precise moment in 5:40 merely by a sudden belief, as Christ has already explained why it is that they cannot believe in verse 38 that quite precludes that possibility. The contextual basis of Christ's words in 5:40 is to confirm their damnation according to their own self-determined will, not establish any other actual possible outcome."

Again, this is Hardshellism in a nutshell.  Telling sinners that salvation does not occur "at the precise moment" that one believes in Christ!  Again, Jason makes Christ into a fool.  Christ knows that these cannot be saved and yet, what does he do?  He still preaches to them how they can be saved!  What Jesus actually does sounds the deathknell to all of Jason's logical machinations.

Jason wrote:

"Given the proper context of the former, 5:40 is obviously stated in a context of condemnation, and is logically consistent with verse 38."

No doubt he is condemning these who "will not come" to him for salvation, but it also shows that Christ has a desire for them to come, and this is what Jason, in his Hyper Calvinism, refuses to acknowledge.  If he does not want them to come to him, then why is he condemning them?

Sculptor's Hammer?

Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, has started another blog titled Sculptor's Hammer in which he offers "Constructive criticism of the exegesis and general views of some ministers among the Primitive Baptists."  In his first article, "God's Faith in Christ and Christ's Faith in God," however, Jason shows that he himself needs "constructive criticism" for what he has written about justification by faith, a subject that was recently a series of mine for the book "The Hardshell Baptist Cult." 

Though I applaud Jason for attacking some of the views of the Hardshells on this subject, he nevertheless retains the chief error of the Hardshells on this subject.  His views do not reflect either the teachings of Scripture nor of the Old Baptists.

Jason wrote:

"As used as a noun, faith in these passages refers to the mechanism or mode of justification under the new covenant as distinct from the mechanism of justification under the law or the old covenant, it is not directly addressing any one's or any thing's subjective faith."

The passages referred to by Jason are Galatians 2:16 and Romans 3:3, 21-31.  I have previously written about these passages in the context of Hardshell interpretations on them.  (see the series titled "The Hardshells & Justification")

Throughout this posting Jason says that "the faith" or "faith," as used in the above passages, means "the truth of God" (aletheia), "the mechanism or mode," "the system," etc.  This is so common of the Hardshells.  In their private dictionary the word "faith" has all sorts of different meanings and it requires some Hardshell "apologist" to come along and help us sort it all out. 

It is not denied that faith (pistis) has more than one meaning in Scripture, but it certainly does not have the varied meanings that Hardshells give to the word. 

Jason is correct to see that, in Scripture, "the faith" (faith with the definite article) often refers to the body of what is believed, or to the object of faith.  Just as "the philosophy" of Jason (or Stephen) denotes the philosophical beliefs of Jason, so "the faith" denotes the religious beliefs of a person.  People often ask - "what faith are you?"  By this they mean - "what religion are you?"  Or, "what are your religious beliefs?"  We also speak of "the Christian faith."  But, to assume that it always means this, especially when the definite article is absent, is an error.  But, more on this in a moment.

Jason wrote:

"It is evident that Paul is still considering the question of verse 3 in verse 7, yet he refers to the 'truth of God' rather than the 'faith of God'. Paul is using 'aletheia' here interchangeably with the 'pistin' of verse 3. God's subjective faith in Christ is alien to the grammar, and it is alien to any preceding context."

One thing is clear.  Jason has to at least admit that "the truth of God" is the means of justifying and purifying the elect from the guilt and pollution of sin.  He still has to affirm that the righteousness of God is "by the faith," or "by the truth," by the gospel.  And, of course, it is only a means to justification and pardon only as it is believed. 

Exactly what are those propositions that are the substance of "the truth" or "the faith," the stated means of justification?  Jason will not want to make this to be Christian truth or faith!  Yet, all through Paul's epistles "the faith" and "the truth" refer to the Scriptures in general or to the Gospel in particular.  Yes, it means "system," but only in the sense of "system of beliefs," or in the sense of creed

I agree with Jason that those Hardshells and others who affirm that "the faith of God" means "the subjective faith (trust, confidence) that God has in his Son" are in error.  Those who affirm that "the faith of Christ" means "the faith that Christ had in God" also err.  But, I do not agree with Jason that "faith" or "the faith" in the Roman epistle exclude the subjective faith of Christians.  The objective and subjective connotations of "faith" and "the faith" in the Genitive Case is to be determined by the context, and often both aspects of "the faith" are in the mind of the inspired writer.  But, more on this in a moment.

Jason wrote:

"Coming to Romans 3:22 and Gal. 2:16, which refer to justification or attaining the righteousness of God 'by faith of Jesus Christ', it is not any one's subjective belief that is referenced by the grammar, but, again, the system of justification under the new covenant, as opposed to the law. There is abundant evidence that this is Paul's meaning in both passages. In both passages (really the whole book of Galatians is about this very point), Paul contrasts two systems of justification, one of Sinai, the other of the heavenly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:21-31)"

It is both!  "Faith" in these verses, and in chapter three of Romans, is both objective and subjective.  Scholars agree that Paul and other Bible writers often had both aspects in mind when they spoke of "the faith of" (Genitive Case) God or of Christ. 

But, how can Jason legitimately exclude the gospel revelation from that new covenant system that justifies?  A system that does not make use of the Gospel revelation!  Who gave Jason the right to exclude Gospel revelation from that system of means in justification and purification?  The old covenant required perfect obedience to be accounted righteous and just, but the new covenant requires only that Christ be trusted and believed. 

Jason wrote:

"However, the 'faith of Jesus Christ' as a concept, clearly refers to man's individual faith by which he is justified. Gal. 3:2 makes the contrast plain. The contrast is between man's works under the law and man's hearing of faith under the new covenant. Men know they have received the spirit when they hear and believe the gospel, as it is the earnest of inheritance until the end time."

Jason makes these two contradictory statements:

1. "'by faith of Jesus Christ', it is not any one's subjective belief"
2. "the 'faith of Jesus Christ' as a concept, clearly refers to man's individual faith by which he is justified."

Jason affirms that "the faith of Jesus Christ...clearly refers to man's individual faith," thus to a subjective faith, to an evangelical faith. 

Jason wrote:

"Subjective belief is treated separately from the 'faith of Jesus Christ' in both Gal. 2:16 and Rom. 3:22. Subjective belief, indicated by the phrase 'even we have believed in Jesus Christ' in Gal. 2:16, and 'unto all and upon all them that believe' in Rom. 3:22, marks an intellectual distinction in Paul's mind between the mechanism or mode of justification under the new covenant, and specific examples of the justified by those who have evangelical faith."

I am glad that Jason admits that both objective and subjective faith are included in the passages he references.  Then why all the dispute?  Are both not shown by Paul to be necessary for justification?

Regarding Romans 3.21,22:

"The Rev. John Owen, who translated and edited Calvin's Commentary on Romans for the Calvin Translation Society in 1849, wrote: "The words 'by or through the faith of Jesus Christ' mean not the faith which is His, but the faith of which He is the object. They ought to be rendered 'through faith in Jesus Christ'. The genitive case often has this meaning: 'Have faith in (of) God', Mk. 11.22; ‘I live by the faith of the Son of God', should be in our language, 'I live by faith in the Son of God'. This genitive case of the object is an Hebraism, and is of frequent occurrence"."

"Dr. A. T. Robertson in "Word Pictures in the New Testament" (1930-33) insists that the Apostle used the "objective genitive", meaning 'faith in Jesus Christ', and not the "subjective genitive", meaning "faith of Jesus Christ"."   (see source here)

Are there Greek scholars who take a different view?  Yes.  But, whether or not subjective faith is included in the phrase "through the faith of Jesus Christ," it is included in the same text, for it says "we have believed that we might be justified."  That is clearly subjective faith, cognitive and willful believing. 

Jason wrote:

"Paul states that it is God that justifies (vs. 26), so the idea that Paul made evangelical belief in the literal blood of Christ per 3:25 as a 'sine qua non' of justification does not follow. Abraham would not have passed that strict standard, manifestly, as the Bible gives no evidence that Abraham knew clearly of the historical events of Calvary."

Who said that Abraham would not have "passed" the test of Romans 3: 25?  Did Abraham not know of "the seed" who would be killed by the Serpent and his seed?  Did Abraham not know that God required atonement and blood sacrifice (via vicarious substitution) for forgiveness and reconciliation?  Did LORD God not tell him that he would provide a lamb for sacrifice in the experience of offering Isaac upon the altar?  Did Jesus not say that Abraham foresaw his time on earth and rejoiced?  Did Abraham see any of the details of the Messiah's coming?  Did he foresee his birth?  Did he foresee his suffering, death, and resurrection?  There is no reason to deny it unless there is clear proof to the contrary.  Can Jason give us that proof?  At least one thing is clear, Abraham placed his hope of salvation and redemption in the coming and work of the Messiah, the Lamb provided according to promise. 

Besides, though the Gospel revelation that produced saving faith, in ancient times, was not as full of detail as the Gospel revelation through Christ and his Apostles, yet it still was essentially "Gospel" and was the means of begetting that faith which saves, purifies, and justifies.  Proving that not all the saved believed equally, or had equal knowledge, does not prove that Gospel revelation is not a means in salvation.  Paul taught, besides its implication and relation to OT peoples, that people today, in order to be saved and justified, must have "faith in his blood." 

Jason wrote:

"Certainly, though, if we view 'through faith in His blood' as a reference to the full revelation of God (whom God hath set forth - revealed in the gospel), witnessed (but not revealed) by the law and the prophets (vs. 21), it is certain that to whom this revelation is made, they cannot be thought of as having been made just by God when they reject evangelical faith in Christ's blood."

"They cannot be thought of as having been made just by God when they reject evangelical faith in Christ's blood."  Praise the Lord!  Will Jason go to work on his Hardshell brethren on this point?  It is sad, however, that he can think of many idol worshipping heathen, "who know not God," as "justified"!  Rejection of the Gospel is proof of unregeneracy but heathen faith is not proof that such are condenmed, that they nevertheless have "latent" faith in Christ?   

In the mind of Jason, if he decides to go to Africa and preach the Gospel, it will be only to "discover" (discern and judge) those who are saved.  Whether he goes or not will not change the fact that so many of the African heathen are already "regenerated" and of the "elect."  We just won't know who they are!  Nor even God, according to Jason.  He will "discern" and discover who are saved at the day of judgment!

Jason wrote:

"It is God that justifies in regeneration when the measure of faith is given to all the seed, so that it is of faith that it might be by grace to the end the promise of eternal life might be sure to all the seed (Rom. 4:16)."

This "measure of faith," does it include belief in the one true God and his Son Jesus Christ?  Does it include belief in the Gospel of salvation through Christ?  I am sure that Jason will say that many heathen, who have no knowledge of the one true God, nor of Christ, and are worshipping false gods, are nevertheless "regenerated" and have "a measure of faith (belief)."  But, what is this minimal faith (belief)?  What propositions does it entail?  Will Jason tell us?  Does the "faith" that receives justification (that necessary "measure of faith" that is given to all in regeneration) come by hearing the word of God per Romans 10: 14?  Where is the text that speaks of people believing in that which they have never heard and learned about?  In that which they know nothing about? 

Jason wrote:

"...the thought process above strikes down the Calvinist notion that evangelical belief in the gospel is to be equated with the doctrine of justification...they err in limiting justification to propositional knowledge about Christ rather than to Christ Himself."

It is the Bible that limits justfication to believers and the Hardshell attempt to extend justfication to unbelievers is the error.  Faith does involve knowledge of propositional truth per Paul in Romans 10.  It is also integral to the meaning of the word "belief" (faith), for how can one believe that which he has no knowledge of?

Jason continued:

"The true object of justifying faith is the person of Christ, as experienced in the new birth. The true knowledge that justifies begins with an experiential knowledge of Christ in which direct perceptions and affections toward Him are aroused by the Spirit alone."

All this does not sound like traditional Hardshellism.  Further, Jason does not always speak clearly, often speaking in double talk, for he can say one thing and then later say the opposite.  Should anyone ignorant of Jason and his writings should read the above words by themselves, he would conclude that Jason believes that evangelical faith in Christ is necessary for justification, that one must have "true knowledge" and "an experiential knowledge of Christ" with "perceptions and affections toward Him."  He seems to say that all those who are born again are believers in Christ.

I have wondered why Jason chose the title "Sculptor's Hammer" for his newest blog.  Obviously it is in order to portray himself as an excellent theological sculptor.  He does not, in his own mind, view himself as wielding a smashing sledge hammer, as he would accuse me of using, but a small hammer for "chipping away" at his theological edifice.  It reminds me of Masonic symbology wherein FreeMasons see themselves as sculptors, and themselves as "rough ashlar" stones taken directly out of the quarry, that must be sculpted into "a temple for the Lord."  Though Jason does not apply the symbology exactly to the same object, as do the FreeMasons, yet he at least shows that he is working on a theological work of art, as a sculpter or stone worker.  This is not surprising seeing he has taken the position that the peculiar views of the Hardshells on soteriology reflect an evolution in the understanding of those who compose his church.  He has said that all the prior controversies on the subject of salvation were means of "refining" and "clarifying" Scripture on the subject and which finally produced the Hardshell denomination.  Jason seems to believe that there is still need for "chipping away" at the Hardshell doctrinal edifice to make it even more perfect and refined.

 The Lord said by Jeremiah:

"Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?"  (Jer. 23: 29)

What kind of "hammer" is this?  A sculptor's small hammer or a sledge hammer?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Did He Really Mean To Say That?

Jason Brown, in initially responding to my former posting, said:

"Peter is saying that the gospel is preached to the spiritually dead so that they might live according to God in the spirit."

He makes a big issue out of the use of the subjunctive mood signified by the word "might."  But, the question of doubt about the certainty of the effect of the preaching in producing life in God, per the subjuntive mood, does not negate the fact that the Gospel was preached with the purpose of bringing men to the divine life.  The subjunctive mood does express purpose.  What is the purpose of preaching the Gospel?  Jason says "so that they might live."  And to this Peter would agree, as I also would.  If he believes this, then why is he still an anti-means Hardshell?

I will give Jason this to wrestle with in regard to his remarks about the subjunctive mood.  It is also from the epistles of Peter.  Peter wrote:

"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring (dative case, subjunctive mood) us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit."  (I Peter 3: 18)

Does the subjunctive mood in this passage imply purpose?  Does it imply doubt and uncertainty?  We will be waiting to hear from Jason on these questions.  We look to be educated.

Jason also wrote:

"...the end of preaching the gospel is to persuade men of the salvation it reveals and of the terror of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:11) in regard to man's standing before God without Christ."

The Gospel is intended "to persuade men of the salvation it reveals" but not to persuade them to believe it for salvation?  How is that logical?  The Gospel is intended to "persuade men of the terror of the Lord" but not to induce them to repent and beg forgiveness?  The Gospel is intended to "persuade men in regard to man's standing before God without Christ" but not so that they might be saved and converted?  What a weak "apology" from our "apologist"! 

Jason wrote:

"...and ends his discussion on the contrast of them in verses 3-5 by saying that the gospel is an instrument of judgment to discern the quick and the dead just as God himself will so judge and discern them at the final judgment."

"It was for the purpose of discernment that Peter preached the gospel to all men, even those that seemed to be dead in riotous living so that they might be judged in regard to whether they were of God or not."

"...the same purpose for the gospel here in time - to discern the sheep from the goats."

In these words Jason interprets Peter's words to simply say that reception of the Gospel reveals who was already saved, not only to men but to God!  He interprets the word "judge" as meaning to "discern" or "to find out," who is saved and who is lost.  Jason said - "God himself will so judge and discern them at the final judgment."  God does not "discern" them now?  God does not "know them that are his" even now?  Jason says that the word "judge" means the same thing when it speaks of men judging (discerning) the saved from the lost and when it speaks of God doing the same. 

Thus, Jason says that the only purpose of preaching the Gospel is not to actually save people, but only for revealing who are saved and who are lost.  But, the Scriptures are clear in affirming that the Gospel is the means God uses to save. 

Peter refers to "the quick and the dead" in verse 5.  In the Greek the definite article is absent and so should say - "judge both living and dead."  The only other place where this is said are in the words of Paul, who wrote:

"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom."  (II Tim. 4: 1)

These verses are affirming the same thing as Peter in I Peter 4: 5.  That verse reads as follows:

"Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead."

The words of Paul also omit the definite article even though the KJV puts the article in the translation.  Both passages speak of the final day of judgment, that judgment that occurs "at his appearing and his kingdom."  Both these passages are talking about physical death, not spiritual death.  The passages speak of God judging both those who are alive (I Thess. 4: 16, 17) at the time of Christ' return and those who have lived and died.  It is true that Christ will judge all, both the spiritually alive and the spiritually dead, but this is not the meaning of either Peter or Paul. 

Besides, whether those who are "dead" are the physically dead or spiritually dead, is not pertinent to a discussion of Hardshellism and anti-meanism.

Still "Uprooted"

Though Jason Brown has attempted to replant Hardshellism, it is still "uprooted" based on the scripture cited in my original posting.  It has withstood the fire of Hardshell investigation and is still precious truth. 

Jason wrote (in  "Garrett's Faux Gold"):

"Honestly, I was giving Brother Garrett the benefit of the doubt. It was not clear from his blog post, "Jesus Uproots Hardshellism", that Brother Garrett was making the argument that the gospel is as genuinely offered to the non-elect as it is to the elect."

But, it was very clear to start with!  Anyone who reads the short post with open mind can see the line of argument, what are the premises and conclusions.  I wrote in that posting - "But, what does Christ say to them?  "These things I say, that ye might be saved."  (John 5: 34)  Yes, I did prove that it was the duty and privilege of all to believe in Christ and the Gospel, and I am glad that Jason agrees and is willing to lead his Hardshell brothers, who reject duty faith, out of their error. 

But, does he accept the plain facts of the passages?  Does he believe that Christ was preaching the Gospel to the non-elect?  How can he deny it?  Does he believe that Christ preached to the non-elect with the purpose that they might be saved?  How can he deny it?  Jason made it very clear that, in his mind, Christ was not speaking to the non-elect, in the passages cited, in order that they might be saved from Hell and damnation.

Here is a good example of how people resist the plain teaching of Scripture in order to uphold their own presuppositions that they bring to the text.  Jason thus begins by applying his tortured "logic" to the passage, and by the time the verses are hacked and hewed upon, they do not really mean what they seem to plainly say.  It is a clear case of eisegesis and of contorting scripture. And, what does his application of "logic" force him into affirming?  The salvation cannot be eternal salvation!  The believing cannot be the same kind of believing that Christ desires from the elect! 

Jason wrote:

"Brother Garrett simply assumes that Jesus means a saving belief and a saving knowledge in this passage."

"How is it all "obvious" and "clear" that Jesus is actually telling them to be eternally saved?"

"...if Christ were exhorting them to believe and be eternally saved it follows that their possible salvation was provided for by God, and, again, that would contradict election and particular redemption, as they were non-elect."

But, if the salvation Christ is talking about in the passages cited is not salvation from sin and damnation, then what is it?  He wants these lost non-elect souls to "believe" in him, but not for salvation from sin?  The salvation talked about by Christ throughout the Gospel of John is eternal salvation.  It the grossest example of perverting the words of the passages in question to affirm that they do not deal with salvation from sin and eternal death.  Surely one can see why the "time salvation" apologetic defense has become so popular with Hardshell apologists over the years. 

When soteriological texts contradict Hardshell presuppositions, then they say - "it can't (logically) be eternal salvation, so it must be strictly a time salvation."  Or, "it can't (logically) be a salvation that is necessary for going to heaven, so it must be only what is of benefit to the quality of life on earth."  But, this is nothing but clear eisegesis.  The context of the passages in question make it very clear, however, that the salvation is from sin and damnation, and to the obtaining of eternal life.  Thus, the debate has narrowed down to proving a single point.  It is agreed that the unregenerate and non-elect are addressed, are the subject of the texts.  The only remaining fact to ascertain is whether the passages speak of eternal salvation. That they do speak of eternal salvation I shall shortly show after I have reviewed the words of my opponent.

Jason wrote:

"Lastly, how is it at all consistent for Brother Garrett to claim Christ is "offering" eternal salvation to the non-elect pharisees in John 10:38 when John 12:39 clearly states that they could not believe? It states that their minds were blinded and kept from belief."

If you had foreknowledge that your offer of help would be rejected, would you offer it anyway?  If you foreknew, as one offering pardon to all prisoners, that the offer would be rejected by half of the prisoners, would you still offer it to them all? 

There is such a thing as "doing good for goodness sake."  Doing something because it is self-evidently right and true.  God provides salvation for all who sincerely seek it from him in Christ because he is more benevolent than any creature.  Yet, at the same time, he knows that men so love prison life that none will accept the offer of pardon and freedom unless he changes the will and thinking of the prisoners in regard to their fate.  This he does not choose to do for all, or else all would be saved. 

This is why the Old Baptists and Calvinist writers of old spoke of both the "general call" of the Gospel to all men indiscriminately and the "special call" of the Spirit to the elect only.  It is also why they often spoke of God having a general will and purpose towards all men, and a special will for some that he chooses from among the rest of the prisoners. They also spoke of God's general love for all men, and of his special love for his elect. 

Thus, God in his infinite goodness and mercy announces to every sinner that he will save him if he accepts his terms of pardon. 

Thus, in the case of the elect, God in grace and mercy opts to so work on their hearts to guarantee that they accept his offered pardon.

Jason makes our Lord into a fool and charges him with doing the illogical.  Since those to whom Christ preached "could not believe," therefore Christ was a fool, because he in fact preached to these who "could not believe."  Did he or did he not preach to these who "could not believe"?  Yes, he did.  But, Jason says that it is not "consistent" to command belief from those who "could not believe."  This is the foundational premise of Pelagianism, that "a command implies ability to do the command." 

As we shall see, Jesus foreknew who would believe and who would not.  Yet, he called upon all to believe in him.  According to Jason, this makes Christ inconsistent! 

Jason wrote:

 "It is not logically possible to argue that the gospel is meaningfully offered to every, individual man without discrimination and also hold that God draws the elect irresistibly to gospel belief."

It may not be "logically possible" to convince the Hardshells, relying upon their rationalism, of how the Gospel is "meaningfully" and sincerely offered to all without discrimination by God with the concept of the "special call" (or effectual/irresistible call) to the elect, but I have already proven this to be the teaching of Scripture.

Jason wrote:

"And, even if He did, would it not be obvious that they couldn't be saved because they were not of the elect?"

Yes, it is true that they could not be saved.  But, I have already addressed that.  No one whom God foreknows will not believe will believe.  But, this does not keep God, out of his goodness, from offering salvation anyway.  Does Jason not believe that God does things for his goodness sake?

Jason wrote:

"It is inconceivable and contradictory to believe, therefore, that Christ included, among His sheep, the non-elect of which he said, "Ye are of your Father the devil", in John 8:44."

I am glad of this admission.  There are people, as I shall show, in John chapters 5, 6, 8, and 10 where these same children of the devil, the non-elect, are addressed and offered salvation, or told how they can be saved. 

Jason wrote:

"If Christ's "invitation" was a testament to the liberty of their will, meaning that they were at liberty to believe, not that they would ever desire to believe because the unregenerate do not have the desire to believe, what would that establish, as Christ did not die for them."

Though Jason does not end the above words with a question mark, yet he clearly ends his words with a question.  He asks - "what would that establish, as Christ did not die for them(?)"  The passages show that Christ offers them a choice about their salvation and in spite of the fact that he knows that they will not choose him and salvation.  Again, this very fact is troubling to Jason and the Hardshells, as it ought to be.  Jason, in other words, is saying - "If the text shows that they had a choice about being saved."  And, - "If the text shows that they were at liberty to believe and be saved."  Not that he accepts these propositions, for he does not believe that they accurately state the record.  But, in order to show that these propositions are not true, he will argue redutio ad absurdum, show that the logical consequences are so absurd and false that the propositions (premises) cannot therefore be true. 

Jason wrote:

"So, though gospel belief is an option for them in terms of a choice that is available, it is universally descriptive of the will of the non-elect that they choose among competing evils."

Agreed!  Why then do you say this and then say all the other stuff? 

Jason wrote:

"The mere liberty of their will is a moot point because, in their liberty, they are still under bondage to sin."

If it is a "moot point," then why did you make it into an argument?  Again, a Governor can offer pardon to all even though he knows that all will not accept his pardon. 

Jason wrote:

"The security and particularity of redemption to the elect in John 10:29 is all the logical force necessary to be equally confident in the eternal hatred of God toward Esau and the non-elect pharisees of this passage."

Again, Jason speaks about what is logical and illogical when he mentions "the logical force necessary."  Why can't he just accept Scripture for what it says even though he cannot reconcile it with his logic?  However, it is not a contradiction to believe in the doctrine of election and particular redemption and in God's general provision.  Spurgeon and Fuller are examples.  The hatred of God towards the non-elect does not exclude his showing them numerous kindnesses.  It does not exclude his offering them pardon and salvation.  It does, however, exclude him from giving them that special grace of his Spirit that will guarantee their acceptance of the offered pardon and salvation. 

Jason wrote:

"... if Brother Garrett supposes that their eternal destiny is not certain, then, to that same degree it is not certain for the elect. All of this is manifest denial of the doctrine of election, or a hopelessly convoluted doctrine of man."

It is certain.  All those who God foreknew as his elect will certainly be saved.  Likewise, all who God foreknew as rebrobate will certainly be damned.  But, this consideration did not keep Christ from offering salvation to the non-elect.  The giving of the invitation is universal, but the work of guaranteeing acceptance of the invitation is special and limited. 

The unregenerate and non-elect are addressed and informed how they might be saved, in these chapters in the Gospel of John.

John 5

"But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved...And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life."  (John 5: 34, 40)

Who is denominated by the pronoun "ye" in the passage?  Is it the regenerate or the unregenerate?  Is it the elect or the non-elect?  Clearly it is the unregenerate and non-elect.  And, is Christ addressing them about how they might be saved?  Is this being "saved" not equated with obtaining "life" by coming to Christ? 

John 6

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life."  (John 6: 47)

"I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you."  (6: 48-53)

"But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him."  (vs. 64)

Who is denominated by the pronoun "ye" in the words - "I say unto you, Except ye eat"?  Is it not the unregenerate and the non-elect?  How can these plain facts be set aside by Jason's use of "logic"?  All Jason can do is to say - "they don't really mean what they say."  Who is denominated by the pronoun "us" in the words - "how can this man give us his flesh to eat?"?    Is he offering them this "bread" or not?  Why did Jesus not respond to their query with correction and say - "oh you are wrong to think that I am giving you my flesh (this bread) to eat, for I am not offering it to you at all, but only to my chosen few"?  Did Christ offer himself, as the Bread of Life, to these non-elect Jews?  Yea, even "for the life of the world"?  Let, Jason come and tell us that these are not the plain reading of the texts. 

John 8

"Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come."  (John 8: 21)

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

"They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin."  (8: 33, 34)

"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed."  (vs. 36)

How can it be denied that eternal salvation is under consideration in these passages?  Is eternal damnation not under consideration?  What does it mean to "die in your sins" if it does not mean to die without pardon?  What does it mean to be "in bondage" to sin, to be "the servant of sin"?  What does it mean to be "made free from sin"? 

Further, Jason admits that these people being told the way of salvation are non-elect.  What does Christ say to them?  "If you believe not, then you shall die in your sins."  Who is denominated by the pronoun "ye"?  "If you non-elect believe not, you shall be damned."  Jason would argue that Christ is doing the illogical in telling those who cannot believe that they will be saved if they believe. 

John 10

"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."  10: 27, 28)

"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.  But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him."  (10: 37, 38)

How can Jason deny that this is talking about eternal salvation?  His refusal to do so only shows how stubbornly resistant he is to the plain reading of the text and how he is wedded, till death do us part, to his Hardshell presuppositions.  Obviously, the whole chapter is talking about eternal salvation.  It is connected with receiving eternal life and never perishing, with being eternally safe in the hand of God.  Further, it is clear that the "believing" is connected with believing in Christ and in the Father.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gold or Stubble?

Jason Brown of "The Primitive Baptist Apologist" has been very busy of late in attempting to answer our writings against Hardshellism.  He is truly an example in Hardshell stubbornness.  Being a former Hardshell myself, I can identify with some of that obstinacy.  However, having turned away from that rebellious spirit now about thirty years, I look at Jason's stubbornness with amazement and bewilderment. 

When I was a Hardshell I held fast to Hardshell unscriptural propositions as if they were the oracles of God.  When I read passages that refuted those propositions, my first reaction was to find ways of "explaining" or "interpreting" those passages that would conform with those Hardshell premises and propositions.  I did not fully realize it at the time, but I see it clearly now, how I was guilty of eisegesis, of "corrupting the word of God" (II Cor. 2: 7) and "handling the word of God deceitfully."  (II Cor. 4: 7)  I resisted the truth.  I resisted the witness of the Spirit as I mishandled those passages that taught against my Hardshell interpretations.  But, thankfully the Lord gave me honesty and sincerity of heart and I was led to repent.  I was given a heart that desires to take God at his word even though it involves me having to "change my mind" (repent). 

I am not alone.  Throughout the history of the Hardshell denomination there have been many who converted out of Hardshellism and were glad of it.  Some of the ablest preachers the Hardshells ever had went through a similar experience to mine.  They saw that Hardshell heresies concerned major Bible doctrine and had enormous negative consequences. 

At times, in my discussions with Brother Jason, I have felt like he was making progress away from Hardshellism and Hyper Calvinism, but then, he dashes that hope and reverts back into his old Hardshell way of approaching Scripture and his practice of eisegesis.  If there was ever a heretical group who are a prime example of taking their man-made propositions to Scripture, and making Scripture to conform to them, it is the Hardshells.  They are very good at "reading into" biblical texts their own translations and interpretations, and at "twisting the Scriptures" (II Peter 3: 16).

In some of Jason's latest postings he has gone back to his old Hardshell ways.  Yet, at the same time, he has started a new blog - "The Sculptor's Hammer" - in which he will offer "Constructive criticism of the exegesis and general views of some ministers among the Primitive Baptists."  Thus, Jason has one blog that specifically rebuts what we say about major Hardshell errors and another that attacks some of the minor errors of the Hardshells.  In one blog he is an "apologist," defending Hardshell heresies.  In the other he is an opponent of the false thinking of the "general views" of "some ministers" among the Hardshells.  Maybe we should call Jason a "reformer"?  Well, so are we here at "The Old Baptist" blog! 

The big difference is that Jason is attacking the leaves and the fruit, to a limited degree, while we are "laying the axe to the root of the tree."  Jason is an example of those who "halt between two opinions" (I Kings 18: 21) and who straddle the proverbial fence.  In this respect he is "double minded" and "unstable."  (James 1: 8; II Peter 3: 16) 

In his most recent posting - "Garrett's Straw, Hay, and Stubble" - Jason responds to an older posting of mine - "Jesus Uproots Hardshellism" - and it is quite obvious that what we wrote in that posting was "gold, silver, and precious stones" seeing it has endured the test of fire, the test of opposition.  Jason certainly did not burn up or destroy what I wrote in that posting!  In fact, for all he said, he did not even address the main argument! 

Here are the two verses I cited:

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

"But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved...And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not...And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life...But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you."  (John 5: 34, 38, 40, 42)

It seems that Jason agrees that these people to whom Christ preached the Gospel were not saved or elect people.  He agrees that the gospel is, in some sense, "preached to" the non-elect. 

But, the main argument in my posting was to emphasize the stated reason that Christ gives for preaching the gospel to the unregenerated and non-elect.  Why was Christ preaching to these people?  Because he had to?  Because they happened to be in the audience with his elect?  That is what Jason and the Hardshells want us to believe!  Is it not absurd? 

But, even if we admit that Christ was forced into preaching to the non-elect, why does he specifically address them?  Why does he point them out for special notice and address?  Why does Jason avoid addressing this pivotal point?  He attempts to respond to my argument by not addressing the main argument?  It is stunning.  My whole argument rested upon the fact that Christ specifically addressed the non-elect and said that he was preaching to them "that you may believe" and "that you may be saved."  This plain fact does in fact "uproot Hardshellism"!  The argument still stands unrefuted and is truly to be equated with "gold, silver, and precious stones."  It is Hardshellism's opposition to the words of Christ in the above texts that is "wood, hay, and stubble." 

Jason wrote:

"...it is plain that the gospel has purpose to the non-elect anyway; albeit not positive purpose..."

In these words Jason reveals the Hardshell leaven (corruption).  The Gospel is preached to the non-elect for no positive purpose!  It is preached to the non-elect only because it cannot only be preached to elect, because they "have to" or must do it, because they are forced to do so!  They had rather not preach the gospel to the non-elect, but since they do not know who they are, they must do what they would rather not do!  Preaching to the non-elect has only the negative purpose of sealing their damnation!  The preaching that God sends to the non-elect has an evil intention!  What leaven!  What heresy!  How degrading to the goodness and mercy of God! 

Jason wrote:

"I find in 1 Peter 4:6, that the gospel was with cause preached to the spiritually dead non-elect that they might be judged by Him who judges the quick and the dead (vs. 5)."

But, what does it mean to "preach to" a person?  Jason admits that the Gospel is to be "preached to" the non-elect.  But, his interpretation of what it means to preach the Gospel "to" a doomed person is rather to "preach at" the person.  The Hardshell "gospel" is no Gospel at all!  It has no good news for the non-elect!  It only has a negative message, a "ministry of condemnation" rather than of salvation.  Jason and the Hardshells can have their kind of "preaching" to the lost, but we will take the kind Jesus had!  He preached "to" the hearts of those he said were unregenerated and non-elect "so that you might believe," and "so that you might be saved."  The "Jesus" of Hardshellism was not sincere and honest when he spoke those words to those who were "not of my sheep."  Hardshells see no heart-felt appeal in the words of Christ spoken to these lost souls.  The Hardshells are to be pitied for their willful opposition to the teachings of these verses and how they "uproot Hardshellism." 

I am glad that Jason admits that the Gospel, by divine intention, is to be preached to the "spiritually dead" non-elect.  But, I Peter 4: 6 is not even talking about the spiritually dead, but to the physically dead!  Also, the ones referred to are not the "spiritually dead," but dead Christians!  

On I Peter 4: 6 Dr. Gill wrote:

 "not in a figurative sense, dead in trespasses and sins; though this is the case of all mankind, and of God's elect, in a state of nature, whether Jews or Gentiles; and the Gospel is preached to such, as it is ordered to be preached to all nations, to every creature, and is the means of quickening dead sinners; and this follows upon it, that such as receive it are judged and condemned by men, and live spiritually here, according to the will of God, and an eternal life hereafter; but the word "dead" is used in the same sense as in the preceding verse, where it manifestly signifies such who had been alive, but were now dead in a natural sense, whom Christ would judge as well as those that will be found alive when he comes; wherefore the Gospel has been preached also to them that are already dead, as well as to those who are now alive...but such are intended, to whom the Gospel had been preached, and to whom it had been effectual unto salvation; who had received it in the love of it, had sincerely professed it, and had suffered for it even death itself; such are designed who had suffered in the flesh, or were dead in their bodies, 1Pe 4:1 who either were dead in the Lord, or especially had suffered death for his sake, as Stephen and others: and this, with what follows, is mentioned with a general view to encourage the saints to patient suffering for Christ..."  (Commentary)

Again, Jason's interpretation of the passage is more evidence of how Jason and the Hardshells need to learn basic Biblical hermeneutics. 

Jason wrote:

"Mark 16:16 speaks of damnation upon gospel rejection, and 2 Thess. 1:7-9 can be seen as the divine response to opposition to the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ."

Doublespeak!  More double talk!  We have already seen how Jason only wants to affirm that gospel rejection is not the "norm" for regenerated souls who hear the gospel, but does not want to say that all who hear and reject the gospel are lost.  He wants to say that there are some few regenerated souls do reject the Gospel.  He tried to make the Apostle Peter into a Gospel and Christ rejector.  According to Jason, if a person rejects the Gospel all the time, he is probably not saved, but if someone accepts the Gospel at least some of the time, then he is probably saved. 

One of the things that Jason fails to see, based upon his statement above, is that the words of Christ not only show that "damnation" (which Jason seems to affirm is eternal damnation), is the result of "gospel rejection," but also "salvation" is the result of Gospel reception!  What is the "divine response" to rejecting the Gospel?  Eternal damnation!  Why don't the Hardshells preach this?  I never heard any preach this when I was with the Hardshells.  I never heard a preacher tell sinners that they would be doomed if they did not believe in Christ! 

Jason wrote:

"Add on to all of this that Primitive Baptists must logically concede that they do not know the elect from the non-elect, which, consequently, means they will inevitably preach to at least some who are damned."

I have several responses to these words.  First, I ask - "did Jesus not know who was elect and who was not?"  Did I not cite verses where Jesus clearly identified those to whom he spoke as being non-elect?  Did I not show that he said that he preached the good news to them so that they would believe and be saved?  What Jason implies is that he would not preach the Gospel to the non-elect if he knew that they were in fact non-elect.  How unlike Jesus!  And, though he may not know who is non-elect, he certainly ought to be able to know who is saved and regenerated!  So, the question is twofold:  1) Do you know what are the clear evidences of the unregenerate state (i.e. judge men by their fruits), and can therefore discern the saved or lost state of a man? and 2) If you learn that a man is truly unregenerated, will you preach the Gospel to that man and tell him to believe and be saved?  Will you preach to them as did Christ?  Will you tell them that they are lost?  Will you tell them about Christ and salvation?  Will you tell him that his rejection of Christ will seal his eternal doom, but believing in him will seal his eternal salvation?  Is that not what Christ said to tell to the lost in Mark 16: 16?

Notice that Jason speaks of what the Hardshells "must logically concede."  Instead of merely having to "logically concede" the fact, why doesn't he just accept the plain declarations of Scripture?  Certainly the reader can see how this is a most distasteful and reluctant concession, however.  He will "logically concede" that the Gospel will "inevitably" be "preached to" the non-elect, but he will not concede that God has any good intention for it being preached to the non-elect. 

Many Hardshells have traditionally advocated the belief that "preaching the Gospel to the regenerated elect" was announcing to them that they are God's children and have been saved by Christ and are sure of heaven. By such a definition of what it means to "preach the Gospel" it was not possible to say this to "every creature" for that would affirm Universalism.  If the Gospel being preached to a man means saying to that man - "you are one of the elect and shall surely be saved" - then the Gospel is not to be preached to all.  But, if  "preach the Gospel" means to tell people of the person and work of Christ for salvation (I Cor. 15: 1-4), with the promise of salvation to all who believe it (John 3: 16; Mark 16: 16), then Hardshells say that they do this only out of necessity, but not for salvation.

Notice also that Jason speaks of having to "inevitably preach to" the non-elect.  He had rather not!  He has nothing of good news to say to them! 

Jason wrote:

"Finally, the manifest absurdity of such a position that Brother Garrett ascribes to "all PB's" is that the radicals that take this view also believe that most of the world is made up of regenerate children of God anyway! So, obviously, what would be the harm of getting on the street corner? The probability is quite high that a disobedient child of God is within earshot." 

Those who Jason calls "the radicals" are actually the view of the overwhelming majority of Hardshells since the start of the twentieth century.  Most Hardshells I ever heard interpreted "the many" (Matt. 26: 28) to mean "the majority of the human race."  All Hardshells I ever heard preached that "the multitude that no man can number" that is "out of every kindred, nation, tongue, and people," represents a majority of the human race.  All I ever heard preach on the two roads, the broad and the narrow, taught that the elect were on both roads!  The Hardshells have typically believed that the elect were many and the non-elect were few, contrary to Jesus.  (Luke 13: 23; Matt. 20: 16)

Can a believer in the Hindu gods, with no knowledge of the true and living God, or Christ, be styled "a disobedient child of God"?  Will you tell us Jason?  Were those Athenian idolaters in Acts "born again children of God" while they were polytheistic heathens?  As C. H. Cayce taught?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Time Salvation now an Article of Faith

It finally happened.

I figured it was only a matter of time.

I was actually looking for it, but am surprised that I just now came across it on my bookshelf.

After approximately 150 years since the seed of anti-evangelism took root among the Primitive Baptists…

After the divisions over gospel means and predestination at the turn of the 20th century...

After going to the scriptures with flawed hermeneutics...

After completely separating conversion from regeneration, and the subjective from the objective…

The doctrine of conditional time salvation has finally made its way into the realm of church articles.

Accepted by Augusta Primitive Baptist Church on May 12, 2002, article #7 reads:

Temporal Salvation. We believe the gospel is the good news of God's salvation by the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is intended solely for God's elect born again children, for their good, joy and happiness. It brings life and immortality to light, and by it, we are fed spiritually. Belief and obedience to the gospel by the performing of "good works" provides a great reward in this life and a timely deliverance (temporal salvation) from spiritual ignorance, a life displeasing to God, and from the pitfalls of this world, our flesh and the devil. We also avoid the chastening rod of God's wrath here in this life by living in obedience to His word. The gospel has no role in the eternal salvation of God's children and many of God's elect will never be converted to the truth of the gospel unto discipleship (infant deaths, mentally afflicted, those in remote parts of the world, or those who in an act of rebellion reject the gospel in unbelief).

And of course, the "proof" texts: 2 Tim. 1:10, Acts 10:28, Eph. 2:10; Titus 3:8, Matthew 5:16, 2 Tim. 3:16, Matthew 11:28-29, Acts 2:40, Heb. 10:26-31, 2 Tim. 2:13

The inclusion of this false teaching into a church’s articles of faith confirms the distance that now exists between it and the Old Baptists of years gone by. I can see how this has been culminating for a while now, though, as the antinomianism consistent with extreme time salvation has already prompted some to rewrite their articles on eternal security, by exchanging the perseverance of the saints for the more compatible expression, the preservation of the saints. The ultimate teaching behind it, and other doctrinal departures, was bound to come sooner or later in the form of its own dedicated article in a church’s confession.

Its main errors are in asserting that:

1) The gospel is only for the regenerate elect.

2) Good works are meritorious on the part of the regenerate (i.e. Arminianism).

3) Evangelical faith and obedience concern only temporal matters.

4) Election is not necessarily unto a “belief of the truth” (2 Thes. 2:13) and “unto obedience” (1 Peter 1:2) but only unto glorification.

Though we strongly disagree with the teaching, this is actually what the Fulton brethren should have done in 1900 instead of supplying footnotes to the London Confession’s teaching on effectual calling. It would have been more honest to include a separate article such as that above instead of feigning allegiance to what they in reality denied.

Our minds are made to wonder if this article stands alone today, or if others have followed suit by adopting it into their own records. If so, we hope that it will help to warn others of what the heresy teaches.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Article Recommendation

Curt Wildy, who manages a blog called Look Unto the Lord, has written a 3-part series entitledWill All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel”? All "Primitive Baptists" not only should read what we write here on the "Old Baptist" blog but also such articles as those written by Brother Wildy.

The articles actually run much deeper than answering solely this single question (will all the elect believe evangelically) but deal with many issues connected to the conditional time salvation heresy.

Just like no two people will agree on absolutely everything, there may be some slight differences in our position when it comes to some of the finer points of theology, but this we feel should not prevent us from recommending what we think is a sound refutation of the aforementioned teaching.  We here at the "Old Baptist" blog are happy to say "amen" to what Brother Wildy has written on this subject. 

Will All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel? - PART ONE

Will All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel? - PART TWO

Will All Of The Elect Hear and Believe the Gospel? - PART THREE

Read and Feast! 

Let us know what you think.

Kevin Fralick and Stephen Garrett

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Jason on the faith of the elect

In a posting titled "Garrett on the faith of God's elect" Jason Brown wrote:

"How can a rational person even begin to take the position that the prophets of the Old Testament preached a salvation through Christ with the same clarity that Paul did?"

But, I never affirmed that the revelation of the gospel that Abraham believed was as clear as that which is believed today.  What I have affirmed, however, is that all the elect will believe the gospel revelation to the degree that it is revealed.  There is no difference, however, in the basic elements of the gospel message that was believed by OT believers and by today's NT believers. 

"And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." (Gal. 3: 8)

"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." (Heb. 4: 2)

These verses say that the same gospel was preached to Abraham and to the Israelites that is today preached by ministers of the new testament.  Jason can resist believing them, but we will accept them for what they say.

Let us ask Jason - "does a person have to believe the gospel to be saved?"  I predict that Jason will not give us a straight anwer to this question, but will give us more doublespeak, saying, on one hand, that yes they do, and then saying, on the other hand, that no they do not.

More Doublespeak

Jason Brown, "Primitive Baptist apologist," responded to the citations that Elder Fralick presented from present day Hardshell sources to show that Brown was wrong on what is taught by the overwhelming majority of today's "Primitive Baptists."  Jason responded as if I were the one who wrote the post, but it was actually brother Fralick. 

There is really no need to disect the remarks of Jason as anyone can see that it is simply more doublespeak.  The citations are very clear and yet Jason trys to make the citations to say what they do not say.  Jason thinks that I need to travel among the Hardshells and see for myself how the Hardshells have changed since I was with them in the 80s.  But, my dad is still a Hardshell and I know that Jason is wrong. 

Besides, it would be only a slight improvement for the Hardshells to confess that all the elect who hear the gospel will, to some degree, respond favorably to the gospel.  They still have a long way to go to get back to the genuine Old Baptist faith.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Faith of God's Elect?

Jason Brown, Hardshell apologist, wrote in response to my critical analysis of his apology, saying:

"Knowledge should not be confused with faith. What is common in the conformation of the elect to the image of Christ in time in all the elect since the beginning of time is a basic trust and faith in the revelation of God available, which, in Old Testament times, was direct revelation from God, and later, the Old Testament."  (see here)

We are glad that Jason affirms that "basic trust and faith in the revelation of God" is "common" to all the elect in their experience of being "conformed to the image of Christ."  But, when he affirms that one can have biblical "faith" apart from what is revealed in scripture about God and his salvation through Christ, then he is teaching what is contrary to scripture, to the 1689 London Baptist Confession and Dr. Gill.  Jason can hardly claim to be an "Old Baptist" when he goes against the above Baptist teaching. 

Gospel revelation, or revelation of redemption through the Son of God, is not a necessary revelation to having "basic trust and faith" that is a means in spiritual transformation.  What may be known of God by other means, other than the gospel, also give that revelation which produces "basic trust and faith." 

Jason wrote:

"Paul's declaration that the gospel is the power of God unto the conformation of the elect to the image of Christ is fully consistent with the manner in which God's revelation directly or through the law, across the ages, was the power of God unto the conformation of the elect to the image of Christ. It all correlated to the degree of revelation revealed to the elect."

I repeat what I said in an earlier posting.  The statement that "the gospel is the power of God unto the conformation of the elect to the image of Christ" is not what modern Hardshells aver.  I want Jason to produce statements from present day Hardshell elders wherein they say that they believe this.  Today's Hardshells would clearly judge brother Jason as not being one of them, but say that he is preaching the "means" position. 

When Jason says that it is "all correlated to the degree of revelation revealed to the elect," he must mean that if one has no revelation, then he cannot have that "basic trust and faith" that is "common" to all the elect.  No revelation = No "basic trust and faith."  I am glad that he admits that some "degree of revelation" is necessary for that "basic trust and faith" that is a means for transformation into the image of Christ.  How much revelation does the "regenerated infant," that Jason and the Hardshells love to talk so much about, must have in order to have "basic trust and faith" that is common to all the elect?  How much revelation does the mentally incompetent need to have that common faith of the elect? 

Jason makes an outlandish assertion when he says that "the law" gave sufficient revelation to produce that "basic trust and faith" that is the means of spriritual transformation.  I am sure that he will say the same about those heathen who neither the law nor the gospel, but only their own heathen traditions and the light of nature.  And, I am sure that he will say that the heathen elect obtain that "basic trust and faith" through studying God's created works. 

But, to define "the faith of God's elect" (Titus 1:1) as being the same in kind with that which heathen polytheists, is a real twisting of the word of God.

Jason also wrote:

"It cannot be argued logically, therefore, that only Paul's gospel conforms the elect to the image of Christ, as all revelation of God is consistent, though not equal in terms of knowledge revealed, and of the same sanctifying efficacy to those who trust in God (which is the root of it all)."

The Gospel is not the "only" revelation that can produce "the faith of God's elect"!  The scriptures declare that there is no faith apart from hearing the gospel revelation - "Therefore faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God."  (Rom. 10: 17) 

Further, the good news concerning the Lord Jesus Christ has been published since the foundation of the world.  Jesus said - "Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad."  (John 8: 56)  The ancient first sign of "Mazzaroth" (Job 38: 32) tells of the coming of the "seed of the woman" (the Virgin Maiden of Virgo).  Virgo has in her right the Spica of Wheat or the Seed, and the brightest star in Virgo means "the seed."  Jesus, when referring to his coming death, said to the Greeks - "except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone, but if it die, it brings forth much fruit."  (John 12: 24)  The Virgin in the constellation of Virgo also has in her left hand a "branch" and this is one of the most ancient names of the Messiah or "seed of the woman."  (See Isa. 4: 2; 11: 1; Jer. 23: 5; 33: 15)  The first Decan of the Virgo constellation is the sign of "Coma" and this word means "the Desired One," and which is also a title of Christ "the seed" in scripture.  (See Haggai 2: 7; Dan. 11: 37)  The other two Decans also testify of Christ, the divine seed who would be Reedemer, Judge, Shepherd, and both God and man.  So, the gospel revelation is as old as the garden of Eden. 

"And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;  As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began."  (Luke 1: 69, 70)

The holy prophets "have been since the world began" and their message was a gospel message concerning salvation through Christ.  Jason can claim that the gospel revelation is not the oldest revelation, but in this he is against the scriptures.

Jason wrote:

"Brother Garrett would have us believe that the gospel has always been available to the elect, which is erroneous by the plain meaning of the texts referenced."

I just showed however that Jason is the one who is in error against "the plain meaning" of the verses I have cited.

Jason wrote:

" It seems to me, therefore, that Brother Garrett is being somewhat spiteful in dragging ridiculous views of some modern Primitive Baptists to the table just to make the PB's look silly."

I have written about what I know is the teaching of the overwhelming majority of Hardshells.  But, Jason has some "ridiculous views" of his own, as I have shown.  Further, the Hardshells do "look silly," with little help from my holding up a mirror. 

Jason wrote:

"...whatever revelation is given to them is the power of God to conform them to the image of Christ."

Is the heathen who only has the light of nature and creation able to have "the faith of God's elect"?  What saith the scripture?  What saith the Old Baptists of ages past?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hardshell Texts and Citations on Rejecting Christ and His Word

Jason Brown, the apologist for the Primitive Baptists, has stated in a recent posting:

“I have never said that those in this gospel era who live a life rejecting Jesus Christ should be considered saved people. I know of no knowledgeable Primitive Baptist who would consider such people certainly regenerated.”

Yet consider this following quotation from David Montgomery, manager of a leading PB website, in reference to the inquiring rich young ruler who approached Jesus (Mark 10:17-22):

“But that young man turned it all down because he loved his money too much. The Bible never mentions him again. I wonder where that young man is right now. Do you think he is in Hell because he rejected Jesus? If he is, then we have a serious problem and we ought to be very afraid. The scriptures say that Jesus loved the young man, and the Apostle Paul says that nothing shall separate us from the love of Jesus Christ (Romans 8). I think that young man is in heaven right now but I also believe that he spent his days on earth in great sadness. The scriptures say the he went on his way sorrowfully. That is where the Bible leaves him and that is where the Bible will leave us if we likewise reject the Lord. But, if we are obedient, if we believe, if we act on our faith, then the joys that we shall receive will be awesome. It will bring heaven closer to us while we live here on earth. This is Time Salvation.”

http://primitivebaptist.info/mambo/content/view/1575/36

Closely connected to this thought of rejecting Christ must be considered the idea of rejecting His gospel as well, which is simply the testimony concerning Him.

Straight from www.pb.org, the Primitive Baptist website itself, comes this bold assertion from the Salem Association (2008):

“"We reject the teaching that all regenerate persons will respond favorably to preaching regarding Christ when they hear it. While all of God's children ought to receive the truth of the news of their eternal salvation and would be greatly benefited by it, there are many who will not believe either through the error that is mixed with such preaching, the fear of cultural or familial pressure, the failings of the preacher, or the rebelliousness of sin in their nature."

http://www.pbpage.org/Salem2008.php

Now if NOT responding favorably to the gospel, and NOT receiving the truth, and NOT believing it, are equivalent to rejecting it, then this is pretty substantial evidence contrary to Jason’s assertion. That is, unless, these are part of that minority of whom Jason speaks who do not represent the prevailing opinion of the Primitive Baptists. But this is the stated confession of an entire association; and that from a designated PB site!

Furthermore, we have the following quotations from Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth by Tom Hagler, Jr.:

"However, God's children that are blessed to hear the gospel message may still reject it because of the various cares of this life."

"Also this doctrine is incorrect because it forgets that some of God's elect die as infants, have mental afflictions, never hear the gospel, and even reject the gospel in unbelief..."

"Also, we know a believer is someone that is already saved eternally, as 1 John 5:1 'Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God:' We also learn that if this creature (born again person) rejects the gospel message in unbelief and refuses to be baptized, then he will be damned (suffer chastisement, not eternal damnation)..."

"The elect of God (Ephesians 1:4-6), whether an unborn baby, the mentally handicapped, those in remote parts of the world, or those who in rebellion reject the gospel, every elect child of God is safe as regards eternal salvation."

"Once alive in Christ, and therefore eternally saved, the gospel is sent to offer the child of God the possibility of conversion unto salvation, to become a disciple of Christ....A regenerate child of God may reject it or embrace it."

"Not all of God's regenerate children will be blessed to hear the gospel message. Many will die young or have a mental affliction to prevent understanding. Some will hear it or reject it."

"As noted above, not all of God's regenerate children will become disciples of Christ, or as they are called, Christians. Predestination is not involved. God has many children who are not Christians since they do not publicly acknowledge Christ. They may have heard the gospel, but have rejected it. The ones that rejected the gospel may have chosen to follow other religious orders, as with the Jews or other religious orders."

"For those children of God who have the ability of believe but do not (reject the gospel) and will not submit to baptism, Mark 16:16 states they will be damned."

Some may hear the gospel, but refuse to follow Christ as a disciple.”


www.basicbibledoctrines.com/downloads/Rightly_Dividing.pdf

I might add here that this book was being circulated in the Smoky Mountain Meeting which takes place every year in Pigeon, Forge TN. Would a work containing such statements as this be propagated at this popular event if it was the prevailing view that gospel conversion is not optional for those “under the sound of it”?

From his work How One is Born Again, the same author records:

“Those Jesus saves include those who die as infants (it is the position of the writer that the non-elect do not die young…see more on this below), or those elect who have a mental deficiency, or the elect who live in a remote place and never hear the gospel preached. It also includes those of the elect of God who hear the gospel preached, but reject it for one reason or another.”

www.basicbibledoctrines.com/downloads/Born_Again.pdf

Lastly, from his work Purpose Of the Gospel, Hagler records:

“Also, we know many of God’s children will reject the gospel when they do hear it presented, as above in Romans 3:3-4.”

Apart from citations, there are texts often interpeted to mean that some of the elect heard the gospel but rejected it.

First, in being consistent with its denial of perseverance and the existence of professors, advocates of conditional time salvation are forced to conclude that the antichrists of 1 John 1:19 (who being with the apostles obviously heard the gospel) were regenerate children of God who rejected it.

Second, King Agrippa in Acts 26:27-28 is viewed by many as yet another example of one who was regenerated, heard the gospel, but rejected it. On this passage, Tom Hagler Jr. (cited above) writes:

“Since Paul said he knew Agrippa believed, Agrippa was born again. Even so, Agrippa chose not to become a disciple of Christ by way of baptism.”

Third, Romans 11:28 is often cited as proof that God’s regenerate children can be enemies of the gospel. This must certainly involve a rejection of the same.

Fourth, since most PBs are against preaching the gospel to the unregenerate due to their Pelagian notion that command implies ability, it is thought that all of the “grounds” upon which the Seed Sower (Matt. 13) cast his seed were regenerated souls. Yet only one, the “good ground”, chose to receive it and get a “time salvation”. The rest rejected the message.

Fifth, many PBs agree with C.H. Cayce and E.D. McCutcheon that the Greeks at Athens were regenerated but not converted when Paul arrived (Acts 17). They were each under the sound of the gospel yet only some "clave unto him, and believed" (v. 34).

Sixth, there is the warning of Heb. 2:1-3. Under the scheme of conditional time salvation, the regenerate may let the “things which we have heard” slip and “neglect the so great salvation”.

Seventh, failing to contrast the apostates of Heb. 6:4-6 with the truly regenerate (v.9) it is thought by many that these were regenerated children of God who had “tasted the good word of God” but had fallen away, temporally speaking.

In none of these instances is a one-time rejection of Christ or His gospel under consideration, but a denial of Him which is never amended by repentance.

In light of these above errors, it is wise to consider the words of our Lord himself on this matter:

"He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48)

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Doublespeak?

Jason Brown wrote:

"Now, what Brother Garrett should know about the Primitive Baptists is that they fully believe in the instrumentality of the word in sanctification and conversion. In his last post, he seemed incredulous that I would suggest that in this gospel era, the gospel is God's means of conforming the elect to the image of Jesus Christ. No Primitive Baptist denies that the gospel is the power of God unto this conformation to the elect under the sound of it, as the Bible states this quite plainly in Romans 1:16, 8:29."  (see here)

What brother Brown says is doublespeak and double talk.  It is a means and it is not a means.  It is optional and it is not optional. 

Further, Brown is wrong when he says that "no Primitive Baptist denies that the gospel is the power of God unto this conformation to the elect under the sound of it."  Let Jason give us the statements from their leading ministers to prove his assertion.  Most Hardshells would not affirm that being "conformed to the image of his Son" (Rom. 8: 29) is the "salvation" of Rom. 1: 16.   Most Hardshells would affirm that all the elect will be "conformed to the image of Christ" but that the gospel is not the means to bring about that transformation.  I am glad that Jason admits that the salvation of Rom. 1: 16 is that transformation to which the elect have been chosen and predestined.  Yet, he needs to become consistent and quit his doublespeak. 

Brother Brown wrote:

"PB ministers failing to study what their forefathers actually taught. The central error that Brother Garrett, Fralick, and I object to in some PB's, is not the concept of a salvation in time, but the supposed fully optional nature of this salvation to the elect. the Bible does not present these doctrines (for the elect under the sound of the gospel) as options; some degree of sanctification is an effect of having been regenerated..."

It is ironic and contradictory that Jason, in the beginning of our debate, criticized me for supposedly believing in more than one way of salvation (regeneration), while he supposedly believed in only one kind of being regenerated, the "Spirit alone" kind.  Why?  Because he is now himself promoting more than one kind of salvation, more than one way of being "conformed to the image of Christ."  People who hear the gospel are conformed to the image of Christ by the gospel, but those who do not hear the gospel are conformed to the image of Christ without the gospel.  People today are saved differently from those who lived in OT times.  Consistency thou art a jewel!

But, it is also interesting how the "degree of sanctification" for those who are both regenerated and converted is significantly different, in the Hardshell paradigm, from that which the "regenerated heathen" experience.  Let Jason tell us about the "degree" of "sanctification" that exists in his "regenerated heathen."  Let Jason tell us about the "degree" of being "conformed to the image of Christ" in the "born again" Muslim or Hindu.

What kind of "regeneration" is it that does not produce knowledge of the one true and living God and his salvation through his Son by the cross?  It is a "hollow log" and very shallow "regeneration" without any real substance and radical transformation.

Further, Jason is correct about the woeful ignorance of Hardshells regarding their own history!     

In his most recent response Brother Brown wrote:

"The Apostle Paul has already stated in the Book of Romans previous to this text that the function of the gospel and evangelical faith is to conform the elect in time to the image of Jesus Christ."

In this statement Jason has avowed the very position he has set himself against.  In this he is a classic example of those who "oppose themselves" (contradict).  He at one time avows the doctrine that the gospel is a means in eternal salvation and then disavows it at another time.  When are the elect conformed to the image of his Son?  Are they not so initially when they are regenerated?  Are they also not so progressively also after regeneration? 

Jason implies that all the elect will be conformed to the image of Christ by the gospel and evangelical faith.  He does not say "some of the elect" but "the elect," meaning "all the elect."  If he means "all of the elect," then he contradicts his view that says - "some of the elect are transformed by the gospel and some of the elect are transformed without the gospel."  Again, this is doublespeak.

If regenerated souls are also souls who are transformed into the image of Christ and transformation is by the gospel, then regeneration is by the gospel.  Who can believe in a "regeneration" where there is no transformation into the likeness of Christ? 

Jason has already asserted that the transformation for those who hear the gospel is through faith in the gospel, but that this same transformation occurs without faith in the gospel for those who never hear the gospel.  Transformation by the gospel is necessary for eternal salvation if you hear the gospel but it is not necessary if you never hear the gospel.

I am sure that Jason will assert that there are two kinds of transformation, one that is universal to all the elect, even to those elect who are heathen polytheists, and one that is limited to only those elect who hear the gospel, for this is a common Hardshell tactic.  But, where is such justification for such disection?  They may call it "rightly dividing the word of truth" but it is rather a "putting asunder what God has joined together." 

Jason wrote:

"So the idea that Paul is not referring to the temporal aspect of salvation in Romans 10:9 is incorrect, as he had already defined his use of the term in the proximate context."

He then wrote:

"I never said that the salvation of Romans 10 had "nothing to do with eternal salvation". In fact, I denied this quite plainly in showing that salvation, properly understood, is both timely and eternal by Paul's definition of salvation as being made conformable to the image of Christ in Romans 8:29."

Okay, so we have Jason on record that the salvation of Romans 10 deals with both time and eternal aspects of salvation.  But, notice again his doublespeak.  On the one hand he wants to say that Romans 10 deals with "time salvation," with the implication that it is not eternal, and then, on the other hand, he wants to say that Romans 10 does deal with eternal salvation.

Keep in mind that the Hardshell doctrine of "time salvation" is not the same thing as present salvation.  The scriptures do put salvation into the past, present, and future tenses.  A Christian can say that God has saved him, is now saving him, and will save him in the future.  But, it is not a different kind of salvation, or so many salvations, but the same salvation.  Christian birth into the family of God occurs instantly and is a finished work.  Christian growth and sanctification has a definite beginning but which does not reach its completion in this life. 

The question becomes rather simple.  What is the salvation of Romans 10 predicated upon?  Is it not upon believing in Christ and confessing him as Savior and Lord?  It is foolish for Jason to say that this is only true for those sinners who hear the gospel but not true for sinners who never hear.

He then wrote:

"However, the effectual calling of God is a "timely" salvation that is not optional to the elect. Some degree of sanctification is a "timely" salvation that is not optional to the elect. A fundamental conviction of the truth of the gospel by the spirit to the elect under the sound of it is a "timely" salvation that is not optional (1 Cor. 1:18)."

Again, Jason sometimes will speak of "the elect," meaning "all the elect," and then switch to speaking only of "some of the elect."  He speaks first of "the elect" and then of "the elect under the sound of it (gospel)."  Again, this is doublespeak.  If you are elect and hear the gospel, then you must believe it to be finally saved.  But, if you are elect and do not hear the gospel, then you don't have to believe the gospel to be finally saved.  Again, is this not two ways of saving the elect?  In Jason's paradigm, if you are elect in gospel lands, then you have to be both regenerated and converted, but if you are elect in heathen lands, then you only have to be "regenerated," and not converted. 

He then wrote:

"A temporal aspect of salvation that is optional to the elect is whether to confess Jesus as Lord, as in Romans 10:10. Romans 10:11 indicates that the regenerate under the sound of the gospel will generally confess their faith, but it certainly is possible for a regenerate man to fail to confess what they really believe is the truth, as Peter."

Here is the Hardshell leaven in the lump of Jason's post.  What is his leavenous proposition?  ===> "You do not have to confess that Christ is Savior and Lord to be finally saved"!  Confessing Christ is "optional to the elect"!  It does not matter as far as being eternally saved is concerned! 

Jason argues that the case of Peter proves that people can be saved who do not confess Christ!  What horrific Hardshell logic!  The case of Peter proves that the confession that is necessary "unto salvation" does not require perfection, not that it proves that those who "confess not at all" (heathen) are saved.

He then wrote:

"I agree with Garrett here, but notice that he now concedes that Romans 10:9-11 is to be understood of what is characteristic of truly regenerate people."

"He now concedes"?  I have always said that faith in Christ and confession of him is "characteristic" of the chosen and called.  But, perhaps we do not interpret the word "characteristic" exactly alike.  When I say that something is characteristic of the elect, I mean that it is something which is common to all the elect, what is universal in regard to them all.  Apparently Jason thinks that if something is common to only half the elect then it is "characteristic" of the elect.  But, this is simply more doublespeak.

He then wrote:

"Confession is characteristic of those with actual belief, not that confession necessarily follows it in every instance."

"Confession is characteristic of those (elect) with actual belief," but is not characteristic of those elect who are without actual belief ("regenerated heathen"). 

Confession necessarily follows regeneration and is "unto salvation," but this does not mean that immutable confession follows regeneration or is "unto salvation." 

He then wrote:

"Obviously it is incorrect to construe from this passage that confession always follows belief, if actual belief is possessed, as Peter disproved."

Wrong!  Jason's error is in equating "confession" with perfect or immutable confession, with a confession that never waivers.  Jason's logic says that since Peter failed, on one occasion, to confess Christ, therefore one can be saved who confesses Christ not at all!  You put that kind of logic in a bird and it will fly backward.

He then wrote:

"This variability in obedience, however slight, is what Primitive Baptists mean by "timely salvation". The difference in Christian purity among actual Christians is explained in terms of their sanctification to the image of Christ by their choice of whether to "embrace with meekness the engrafted word". This is what Primitive Baptists mean by "timely" salvation. How can it be argued that when it is applied in this manner it is Scripturally erroneous?"

We want to hear more about this "variability in obedience," this variability in confessing Christ.  What is the nature of the "regenerated" heathen's obedience and that of the regenerated Christian?   How can the heathen have any acceptable obediene apart from faith in Christ?  (Heb. 11: 6; Rom. 14: 23)  What "degree" of sanctification can the "regenerated heathen" have who has no faith? 

He then wrote:

"I have never said that those in this gospel era who live a life rejecting Jesus Christ should be considered saved people. I know of no knowledgeable Primitive Baptist who would consider such people certainly regenerated."

But, this is false and Jason needs to prove his baseless assertion.  Most Hardshells today do not teach what Jason says they teach.  The chief question is whether a man can be "regenerated" and yet be an unbeliever or non-Christian.  Also, this is simply more doublespeak.  He affirms the salvation of millions who die in heathen faith and yet says he would not "consider such people certainly regenerated." 

Jason offers the "national Jew as a special case of providential blindness."  By this he means that the Christ rejecting Jew is an exception ("special case") to the rule that says that only believers, under the sound of the gospel, will be saved.  So, Jason's paradigm has now been altered again and now has these propositions:  1) if you are elect and live without hearing the gospel, then you will be regenerated and finally saved anyway, 2) if you are an elect Gentile and hear the gospel, then you will not be regenerated and finally saved unless you believe the gospel, 3) if you are an elect Jew and hear the gospel, then you will still probably be saved.  What nonsense!

Do the Hardshells not affirm, as Jason has, that the rich young ruler, who Christ is said to have loved, and who rejected following Christ, was saved?  Did not Sonny Pyles use Eze. 3: 4-6 to prove that the heathen were saved?  Did not Elder Sarrels in his "Systematic Theology" affirm that all sincerely good religious pagan people were "regenerated"? 

He then wrote:

"Many will be eternally saved who did not believe, confess, and serve in the Kingdom of God...as much as others."

More doublespeak!  He says such things and then at other times says things that contradict those things.  He just said that he cannot say that people who live and die rejecting Christ are saved and yet he now says just the opposite!  He speaks out of both sides of his mouth, opposing himself.  Can Jason give us one example from scripture of someone who is "eternally saved" but who did not "believe, confess, and serve"?  Does Paul affirm in Romans 10 that many who do not believe and confess will be eternally saved?  Jesus told the Jews - "if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."  (John 8: 24)  What does Paul say of the heathen state?  Does he not say that they are "without God and without hope in the world"?  (Eph. 2: 12)

Jason wrote:

"They will all be convicted of the truth of the gospel by the spirit when under the sound of the true gospel (1 Cor. 1:18,24 - saved in verse 18 is exchanged for the effectually called in verse 24, so in this text "being saved" is having been regenerated)."

Notice again how Jason makes unwarranted distinctions.  He says that "all" the elect who hear the gospel will believe it and be saved and transformed by it, but that all the elect who do not hear the gospel will also be saved and transformed, but not by the gospel.  Of course, Jason seems to want to exclude the national Jew from the "all" who hear the gospel. 

One wonders whether Jason accepts the Hardshell view of this text?  Does he believe that Paul affirms that people are saved and called before they hear the gospel? 

"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God...But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. "  (I Cor. 1: 18, 24)

The typical Hardshell says that the gospel is the power of God to those who are already saved and regenerated because Paul says the gospel is the power of God to those who believe, to those who are called, to those who are saved.  But, this is a violent twisting of the text.  In verse 21 Paul said - "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."  Obviously the salvation follows the believing in the passage.  Obvious also is the fact that what constitutes one a "believer" is that he believes in the gospel, in the fact that Christ is the Wisdom and Power of God.  Further, Paul consistently taught that God calls "by the gospel."  (II Thess. 2: 14)  "The called" is not a title applied to any heathen unbeliever in the NT.   Further, when Paul says that the gospel is the "power of God" does he not mean that "it is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1: 16)?  Jason has already affirmed that the word "saved" in the context is eternal salvation and what is the same as being "effectually called."  If he is consistent, then he will define the word "saved" in verse 21 as also the same as eternal salvation and effectual calling.  Thus we can read the passage as saying - "it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to eternally save and effectually call them who believe." 

Jason wrote:

"I never contended that Romans 10 had no "eternal" significance in terms of the events of time signifying the eternal reality."

This is more doublespeak.  Jason interprets Paul as saying that the eternal aspects of the salvation under consideration do not require becoming a Christian but the temporal aspects of it do require it.  Thus, a man may miss the temporal aspects of salvation but not the eternal aspect.  What a reading into the text of what is absolutely foreign to it!  Jason said - "Brother Garrett has a problem with the implications of this definition in that it is not 'fully eternal.'"  The salvation includes present salvation (calling, justification, and sanctification) but also includes final salvation at the resurrection and day of judgment.  It includes conversion.  To believe in and call upon the name of the Lord Jesus is to be converted.

Jason wrote:

"The gospel of John 3:8 doesn't teach gospel instrumentality in regeneration, but we've already discussed that point. He will disagree, but Primitive Baptists and many other Calvinists like James White or R.C. Sproul disagree."

Whether John 3: 8 clearly teaches "gospel instrumentality in regeneration" is beside the point since such instrumentality is taught elsewhere in numerous verses.  Paul said that he had "begotten" the Corinthians "by the gospel."  (I Cor. 4: 15)  Peter said - "being born again...by the word of God...and this word by the gospel is preached unto you."  (I Peter 1: 23-25)  James said - "of his own will begat he us with the word of truth."  (James 1: 18)  James White believes that the instant a man is regenerated he believes the gospel. 

Jason wrote:

"Anyone approaching this issue free of prejudice would conclude that John 3:8 teaches an unmediated, supernatural cause of regeneration. This position certainly has the advantage of the intuitive reading on this text to the honest observer."

That is untrue.  I find it interesting that Jesus goes right from talking about being "born again" to talking about "looking" and "believing" to salvation (vs. 14-16)  Jesus said to Nicodemus:

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

Why does Jason totally divorce what Jesus here taught about being saved from what he just said about being "born again"?  Is it not rather likely that these verses are an elaboration upon what it means to be "born again"?  To be born again means to lay hold of Christ by faith.

Jason goes contrary to his Hardshell Baptist forefathers regarding the new birth of John 3!  The first Hardshells taught that this new birth was not regeneration, but was what would surely follow it.  They taught that this new birth was affected by means of gospel preaching and that it was synonymous with being converted.  He indicts his own founding fathers as being dishonest interpreters of John 3!

Jason wrote:

"I used Peter to prove that one can be saved even though they may not confess Christ in every instance, not that they won't confess Christ ever or at all."

More doublespeak!  Did Jason not say that the case of Peter proved that one did not have to confess Christ to be saved?  Did I not attack such argumentation and basically say just what Jason now says in this quotation?  Again, Jason is contradicting and opposing himself!  Is he so blind that he cannot see it?

Jason wrote:

"The point is, that Garrett has conceded my point that true belief is logically separable from confession, and that confession is an evidence of true belief."

But Garrett has "conceded" nothing for I have never never denied that faith is "logically separable from confession."  Faith is logically separable from good works also.  But, where there is true faith there are good works, and vice versa.  What is the chief point, however, is whether being saved, born again, or called, is separated from evangelical faith. 

In another recent posting, Brown wrote:

"The Bible is not totally clear about the fate of the heathen."

What a totally baseless proposition!  It is quite obvious that Jason is not familiar with what the scriptures say about the eternal destiny of the heathen who die without a conversion to Christ!  He is also grossly ignorant of what the 1689 London Baptist Confession says for it says that the scriptures are very clear in affirming the eternal damnation of the heathen.  He is also grossly ignorant of what Dr. Gill wrote on the "state of the heathen."  (see here)  Paul said that the heathen are they who "have no hope" and are "without God." 

Jason wrote:

"If one sees the lack of consistency with this and how the elect were saved in the Old Testament, which suggests that the gospel of  Jesus Christ is a more evolved content of a more obscure promise made to Abraham and the Old Testament saints, a logical person ought to see that the fate of the heathen in the Old Testament is entirely dependent on God's direct revelation."

Again, how can Jason justly condemn me for supposedly affirming more than one way of salvation and then do the same?  How many ways does God have of saving his people Jason?

Jason wrote:

"What does this mean for the heathen people before the gospel era? Any answer is some degree of speculation. Everyone concedes that God has revealed Himself directly to pagan people before the gospel era. The Bible is not clear on the scale of such pre-gospel revelation, but does intimate it, even if one considered the case of Abraham alone. God spoke directly to Abimelech in a dream, instructing him that  Abraham was a prophet of God and to let him go (Gen. 20:6)."

But, the difference is that the heathen who heard the gospel directly from God, and believed it, was no longer a "heathen."  So, such cases, as Abraham, do not prove that people are saved without evangelical faith!  Further, the Lord spoke to Abimelech but did not preach the gospel to him.  The Lord also spoke to Cain but Cain "was of that wicked one."  The speaking God did to Abraham, while a heathen, was not the same speaking that God did to Cain or Abimelech.  People have been saved the same way in every age as Paul taught in Romans and Galatians, by faith in the gospel of Christ.

Jason wrote:

"It is ridiculous to conclude with certainty that all the pagan peoples before the gospel era were damned, as Abraham himself is an obvious counter-example."

"Ridiculus to conclude"?  Based upon what biblical premises?  Not only does Jason assert that many heathen in the OT were saved without knowledge of God, but he also asserts that many heathen in the NT are also saved without knowledge of God.  Abraham is not an example of people being saved who lived and died in pagan belief! 

Jason wrote:

"What I would like to consider now, is Ezekiel's Valley of the Dry Bones. Brother Garrett is fond of considering this example to prove that God uses means in quickening. However, I want to observe that it was not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ that Ezekiel spoke to the bones in this example. The words Ezekiel spoke are not up for debate, as Ezekiel 37:4-6 tell the reader what was spoken."

What exactly was the message or words that Ezekiel was commanded to "prophesy" is beside the point!  What is the point is the fact that God used a prophet and his prophesying as a means or instrument to effect resurrection!  Why is Jason resisting accepting what the text plainly shows?  Why does he affirm that the prophesying of Ezekiel was no means at all?  Does he not show that patented Hardshell stubborness by his opposition to the clear fact that Ezekiel's prophesying was a means in resurrection? 

Jason wrote:

"So the pertinent question becomes, how does Garrett even know that the spoken words of Ezekiel were used by God as a means? He doesn't know it, he begs the question. This example only shows his presiding assumption."

Here Jason clearly denies that the "spoken words of Ezekiel were used by God as a means" in the resurrection of the dead bones!  How blatant a denial of plain scriptural facts! 

Jason wrote:

"There is absolutely no indication that the actual words of Ezekiel served as the medium by which the bones were quickened. There is just as much basis in the text to argue that the quickening power of God coincided with Ezekiel's words, as that they employed his words."

"There is absolutely no indication that the actual words of Ezekiel served as a medium by which the bones were quickened"?  Jason is willingly blinded and hardened against the plain reading of the text.  The Lord told Ezekiel to "prophesy unto these bones" so that they might live.  He told those bones to "hear the word of the Lord" and it was upon his saying these words that the bones began to come to life.  What a "hot potato" is this passage of scripture for Hardshells!

Jason wrote:

"Garrett may object, but Ezekiel was commanded to tell them to "hear". Does this mean Jesus was redundant when he said, "he that hath ears to hear, let him hear"? If the ears of natural men can spiritually hear, then Jesus obviously misspoke."

Jason is confusing two completely separate passages.  The words of Jesus about people who have ears hearing is not applicable to the case in Ezekiel!  The people to whom Ezekiel was to preach had no ears!  Jesus will say to the "dead," to those who have no ears, in the day of the resurrection, "come forth"!   The ears of natural men can and do hear spiritually when the Lord attends the preaching and imparts ability to hear.  Has Jason never read - "in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book"?  (Isa. 29: 18)  Has he never read - "Hear, ye deaf; and look, ye blind, that ye may see"?  (Isa. 42: 18)  Further, does the Lord not condemn men for their not being able and willing to hear?

Jason wrote:

"If God is a God that works by natural means, have we not laid the groundwork for Deism? How can Christians defend the truly miraculous and providential - that which occurs by the power of God alone, if such a proclivity in the Divine is accepted?"

The preaching of the gospel is not a "natural means" but a supernatural means!  God works by both natural means and supernatural means, but God's use of means, for whatever ends, does not in any way lend credence to Deism.  Jason argues that if God uses means, then the effect intended cannot be wholly ascribed to God and his power alone.  What horrific Hardshell logic! 

"And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?"  (Acts 3: 12)

Obviously Peter was no Hardshell nor one who accepted the "reasoning" of brother Jason!  Peter knew that he had been an instrument by which God had healed the impotent man and yet he did not follow Jason's logic and deny that all the power was of the Lord! 

Jason wrote:

"I doubt Garrett recognizes how dangerous this doctrine is, and that he has laid the ax at the root of the tree of the lifeblood of Christianity."

How dangerous is the teaching that what God accomplishes through means is still nevertheless by his power alone?  What is really "dangerous" is Hardshellism, the proclamation that faith in Christ is not a requirement for being eternally saved!